Friday, February 9, 2018

Valencia CF 0 - 2 Barcelona CF Match Report

Valencia went down battling in the 2nd leg of Copa against Barcelona in Mestalla. It was a scintillating game with great game plan from Marcelino. Unfortunately it was not to be, but the players can keep their heads high. My only hope is, now they can be confident in themselves and start being more consistent with this kind of footballing ideas.

               Vietto - Zaza

First Half:
The first half again started out similar to week, with lot of high press from Barcelona. But what might have paused them was the counters from Valencia. Lot more threatening, lot more direct. Marcelino set up Valencia counter attack beautifully IMO. The 4-4-2 version deployed  was very flexible and transitioned into 4-3-3 which transitioned into 4-3-1-2. The way the formations were changing was brilliant with the game plan again being to clog up the middle. Another pleasing thing to see was Marcelino had set up Coquelin, Kondogbia and Rodrigo as robbers! Whenever Barcelona went back to re-stretch the field, the robbers would be waiting for those side-side swing passes. Rodgrio and Coquelin executed the moves very well and stole lot of passes to initiate counter attacks. It was a very well oiled machine! Zaza was pressing Umtiti, Vietto was running in between the line with his intelligent runs and Rodrigo was having an insane game! This is the kind of play I want to see from Rodrigo day-in day out. Had a great header of the bar. Was sitting right in front of Parejo and was finding himself in nice soft zones in Barca defense and when he received pass here, progressed on the drive and then gave nice through balls. Kept the game flowing! Not a single selfish ball hogging decision making. At the end of first half Valencia had the best chance, with Rodrigo's shot of the bar with Cillessen beaten.

Second Half:
Second half started with even more purpose with Valencia attacking Barca higher up the pitch. Boy were we threatening. It's a pity that we conceded the goal at the most inopportune moment. Suarez did couple of moves on Garay who defended him as well as he could and then found a left footed cross far post, where Coutinho finished it with a deft shot. To me Gaya made a mistake in not being physical enough with Coutinho and let him past him, but still Coutinho had to do lot of work with Juame having covered the near post. My reaction is - this is what money will buy you. Suarez turning Garay around or Coutinho finding the only possible solution for goal - Until there is no fair financial policy or acquiring of talent in laliga, rest of the teams will be forced to eat this kind of goals.
Because from what I have seen from financial fair play - if your team doesn't have high quality players for which a team is willing to pay enormous amount you can't afford better players.

Anyhow, the goal deflated the team. Barcelona were toying with us. Hate watching it - just passing to each other and egging us to rush into tackles so that likes of Alba can display some of the patented writhing around moves. Marcelino tried to bring some juice in with Soler and Guedes on for Coquelin and Rodrigo. We played great attacking football but just couldn't get a goal. Garay seems to have popped his hamstring and it didn't look good, Vezo replaced him. Guedes had a good games as well and played in a great cross to Soler, who headed it into Gaya's path whose shot was kept out by a reflex save from Cillessen. Just unlucky. Barcelona scored one more with Rakitic.

Valencia 0 - Barcelona 2

Final thoughts:
This was a great game by Valencia. As I have always said, Valencia always does well against teams that attack as they afford more space in counters.  But what was good today was players were playing free flowing, unselfish football. It was pure joy to watch. This has to be used as stepping stone because on any other day we might have scored 3 goals against any team.

Player Ratings;
Juame - 6: Very hard to save the first goal. 2nd goal also looked to be placed well.
Gaya - 4.5: At fault last week for the goal and same this week. But imo, these kind of mental errors usually have very low probability of getting punished and was unfortunate. Karma will average it out. He should move on as he had a terrific game otherwise. His crossing game was also really great today.
Paulista - 5: Had a great game. Lots of last ditch tackling.
Garay - 4.5: Got turned around from suarez, but defended it as well as one could. Had a great game. His injury looks bad.
Montoya - 6: Another strong game. Slowly is getting back to form which is good news.

Coquelin - 6: Did his job effectively. Was physical but clean in tackles. Stole the ball. I liked his physical game against Messi.
Parejo - 5.5: Had a good game as well and very neat in his passing and defended well. With 2 CDMs around him had ton of insurance, but passed around well.
Kondogbia - 6.5: Such a great physical player and it's super hard to get the ball off him. Another stellar performance.
Rodrigo - 7: I might have given Rodrigo a 9 if the we hadn't lost the match. This is the kind of performance which I want to see consistently from Rodrigo. I didn't even have issues with him taking shots outside the D today, because they were all good situational plays!

Zaza - 6: Made himself a nuisance and played hard.
Vietto - 5.5:  Had a decent game as well. Slipping in between lines and entering into the D with delayed runs. Understood his position and where to press when Rodrigo moved into 3rd striker position.

Guedes - 6: Was a threat on the left. Like how he calmly controlled the ball to let Sergi Roberto slide and the picked out cross to Soler.
Soler - 6: Was a threat with winning the ball and moving it forward. Was all over the pitch
Vezo - 5: Came in for Garay. Didn't notice him making any mistake. Maybe for 2nd goal could have closed down Raktitic better. It was like 4 Vs 2, so just too much to handle imo.