Sunday, January 21, 2018

UD Las Palmas 2-1 Valencia CF Match Report

Valencia CF was handed their fourth defeat of the season today against Las Palmas. This was familiar opposition as Valencia played in two legs against Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey which ended 1-1 away and 4-0 at home. Before this game, Las Palmas was flat at the bottom of the table, with the most goals conceded. This slip was again made worse by the fact that Atletico Madrid, despite being held back to a draw earlier in the day, still gained a point advantage over us. We're still at a great standing in the league, but the game was a massive disappointment.

Before I get into the game, I want to talk about the lineup.

The forward and defense lines are something we've seen recently with the exception of Gaya being replaced by Lato due to suspension. The midfield was a strange one, with both Kondogbia and Coquelin featuring. While Parejo is absent due to suspension, those 2 players are meant to rotate the same CDM position. Looking at it before the game, I thought that we were going to lack creativity from the central midfield and that was indeed the case. As for the wingers, usually at least one of Pereria or Guedes would start but we got to see Nacho Gil and Maksimovic, both of whom have impressed the coaching staff in recent game, start together. 

You couldn't have guessed what was going to happen later in the game by watching the first 5 minutes. That's all the time it took for Valencia to find the back of the net. There were two similar corners, delivered by Nacho Gil, the first dealt with by the opposing defense but the second one beating them completely and headed in by Santi Mina. Valencia's early dominance would continue with Santi Mina being set up for a one on one against the keeper, who would get a touch on his shot but the ball would keep it's motion only to hit the post. Unlucky not to score. 

The first 10 minutes would also feature many tackles by Las Palmas in an attempt to press us off the ball. The referee stopped the game so many times in quick succession and the flow of the game was often stopped. After the goal though, we would lose control over the game and Las Palmas would put together attacking move after move. Viera would start a move and make an unmarked darting run into the box. The ball was lifted into the center, met by Calleri who found Viera's run who blasted the ball into the net from point-blank range between Neto's outstretched arms. In the next five minutes, both Lato and Vezo earned yellow cards. 

With the remaining first half being more of the same, I thought we would bounce back in the second half as we normally do. It was more dominance from Las Palmas and it would become worse very soon. Fifty second minute, a Las Palmas ball struck Paulista's outstretched elbow and the referee calls for a penalty and books him with a yellow card. Paulista gets up in the referee's face and starts complaining about the decision for quite a while and the referee gets fed up and send him off. A goal behind from Calleri's penalty and a man down against a team that has dominated us for most of the game. Again, you could argue with these that sometimes they're not given or that it's too harsh to give a penalty and send a player off but that's the way it went. The last 30 minutes of the game would see Montoya, Neto, Zaza (from the sideline), Vezo and Coquelin get booked. Of course, that meant a second yellow for Vezo as well who was shown a red card. 

Valencia did step up in the final minutes of the game and put together some good moves but it was to no avail. Guedes, Vietto and Zaza were all brought on after the 2nd goal but none could influence the game enough to score. The second sending off killed off the game and even with 4 added minutes everybody knew it was going to be a Las Palmas win. 

0-1 Santi Mina, 5'
1-1 Viera, 20'
2-1 Calleri (pen.), 53'

Neto 3 - Caught off guard for the first goal but it was shot right between his arms, maybe could've done better. Half-dove for the penalty then frozen.
Montoya 5 - A decent performance, generally covered well in the three man defense after Paulista's red card and then the two-man defense with Vezo off.
Paulista 0.5 - Last second challenge saved us from a possible Las Palmas goal, but cost us the game by running his mouth at the referee. He's one of the more experienced players in the lineup and shouldn't throw the game with one silly moment. Also, barely jumped to contest the ball into the box in the lead-up to the first goal.
Vezo 3 - Didn't track Viera's run from his side for the first goal. He did get sent off, but it was a bit harsh and the Las Palmas player was making the most of it. 
Lato 4 - Should've done more defensively for the first goal, he was left in the dust by Viera. Tactical foul to stop a dangerous Las Palmas counter attack
Nacho Gil 6 - great corner assist for the first goal, put in a lot of effort out there.
Kondogbia 5 - solid in the midfield but the lack of creativity is due to the lineup wouldn't blame him
Coquelin 4.5 - great work rate, helped out the defense when needed
Maksimovic 5 - worked hard out there offensively and defensively, his creativity didn't have a chance to show as we were constantly being pressed
Rodrigo 3.5 - barely noticed he was out there, but then again the offense didn't have much work to or supply
Santi Mina 6 - took his chance and scored following Nacho Gil's corner

Some of the changes could have been due to the Copa game mid-week in mind. Marcelino seems really intent on getting us to Copa Final. However, there was a lot of silliness out there. We had a similar number of fouls (they had 19, we had 15) but a disproportionate number of bookings (they had 2, we had 11 of which 2 resulted in players sent off and 1 just off the sideline for kicking away a loss ball). We were missing both Gaya and Parejo due to suspensions but we keep picking up more bookings. We're third in the league, not only in position, but in number of yellow cards (61) and are tied at top for number of red cards (4). This is definitely an issue. 

Our next game is the 2nd leg of the Copa del Rey quarter finals against Alaves. We have a good advantage from the first game which finished 2-1 at home. They have an away goal but we lead on aggregate. The first leg was close and we were rescued by Rodrigo's goal and a red card but the win will not be straightforward. I am optimistic for that game though and it would be a great boost to make the semi-finals. 

Let us know your thoughts on the game? Are bookings an issue for us? Who impressed? Who disappointed? All comments and opinions are welcome and appreciated.