Valencia throw away two points and millions of euros in prize money in another incompetent display, especially in the second half.
The line-up contained no surprises. Garay had picked up a minor injury so Diakhaby came back in. I was happy to see Ferran start on the left. The other options were Wass, who's been off form, Coquelin out of position or a Gaya-Lato combo.
The team started well enough. After a few early struggles to adjust to the plastic pitch the team started to find a rhythm and attacked, but it was the usual story, once we got to their final third play broke down and we failed to create any real chances. This was despite Bats looking better this game, taking better touches and passing well, something the team messed up at times.
Valencia went ahead in the 26th minute, Soler providing a great assist with a deft flick-on allowing Bats to round the keeper and finish well from a narrow angle. Sadly, that would be the peak of Valencia. The first half followed most of the same pattern that we have seen game in game out this season cluelessness in the final third.
Predictably, with Valencia failing to build a comfortable lead, many of us were already guessing what would happen next: the team gave away an idiotic penalty, with Captain Parejo the culprit. It's hard to see what the hell he was doing, it looked like a stretching exercise but after the equaliser, their tails were up and they dominated the rest of the encounter. Neto, who was our best player on the night, had to come to the rescue several times. A couple of the saves looked like sheer dumb luck, which we won't have against all teams.
Manchester losing at home to Juventus means that, astonishingly, we're still in with a chance of a last 16 place. But we'd have to beat both Young Boys and MUFC at home and hope MUFC lose at Juve. I just can't see it and neither do I think our incompetent displays deserve it.
After the game Marcelino said he couldn't think of a logical explanation as to why the team had drawn 9 out of 12 games. Is he for real? It's blatantly obvious to all of us why.
Neto is possibly the only player that has been playing at a consistently decent level. The defence have generally been with it too, but tonight was an off-night with many stupid errors. On the plus side as well, Piccini has been improving and may yet find his place in the team: he's gone from bad to average in recent games. Just 2 goals conceded from open play in 9 games shows that there is hope in this bunch but....
...the forward line has just been woeful. They seem to need 10 chances just to even hit the target, nevermind score. Not far behind them in incompetence is the midfield. Kondogbia was disappointing tonight and overall this season. Parejo needs a rest on the bench. There seems to be a disconnect and total lack of understanding between midfield and attack which means we are failing to capitalise on what are good defensive performances more often than not.
But the biggest problem is that we do not seem to be progressing or learning anything. We just repeat the same mistakes over and over again, with the manager often guilty. A predictable playing style (a counter attacking 4-4-2) with no plan B which just about every team in La Liga has figured out how to counter. Too much rotation leading to the lack of understanding between MF and Forwards. Certain players (yes you Dani) who seem to always play regardless of form. At times bizarre substitutions: how many times have we seen a third forward come on with Rodrigo shifted back to the wings. At least four times and IT NEVER WORKS!
I'm far from the sack Marcelino camp and agree with commenters who say it's far too soon, but the man needs to change something up rather than stubbornly repeating what blatantly isn't working as time is rapidly running out, with a quarter of the season now gone. The upcoming stretch of games is relatively easier with a cup game at Ebro in the mix to allow a few experiments, but if things don't improve then, Marcelino's credit at the bank will soon run out and we will hear jeers and whistles soon.