Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Copa del Rey Round of 16: Cultural Leonesa 0 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread (2-4 penalty shoot-out)

The Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey will see Valencia travel away from home to play against Cultural Leonesa at the Estadio Reino de León.

Cultural Leonesa, like UD Logroñés, plays in the Segunda División B. In fact, they are both in Group 2 with Logroñés in 1st position and Leonesa in 2nd. Now it might be tempting to say that Valencia won against the group leader so the 2nd place team should also be a win. However, Valencia really struggled in that game and the scoreline aws hardly indicative of the difference of the caliber of the two teams. Also, Cultural Leonesa knocked out one of the favorites, Atletico de Madrid, from the competition already. This is not a game to be taken lightly. A chance at the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey awaits the winner.

Cultural Leonesa come into the game with a 1-0 away loss to the Athletic Bilbao B team, conceding in the last 15 minutes of the game. In the Round of 32 of the Copa del Rey, they beat Atletico de Madrid 2-1. Atletico scored first in the 62nd minute but the game was equalized at minute 83. This took the game to extra time where they managed to score mid-way into the first half and held the opposition at bay for the remained of the game to secure the results.

Valencia come into this game having shocked everyone with a 2-0 win at Mestalla against Barcelona. The away team looked far from the threat they normally posed and Valencia had the upper hand. They even managed a clean sheet, which is firstly, rare this season and secondly not expected against the league leaders. In the Copa del Rey Round of 32, Valencia beat Logroñés, but just barely with 1-0 win. The team dominated the first half but could not put the game to bed and the opposition was allowed to take charge of the game in the second half.

Cultural Leonesa form (all competitions): LWDWW
Valencia form (all competitions): WWLLW

Cillissen is absent from the squad list yet again, still struggling with that injury, ever since the Super Cup fixture. Rivero is called up as Jaume's back-up again.

In defense, Garay and Wass, are both left out of the squad. Some sources say this is a technical decision, other say that they had discomfort post-match against Barcelona. Thierry Correia and Mangala are called to fill the gap. 

The midfield looks more complete with Parejo returning to the squad, having missed last game via suspension. Cheryshev is still out so Esquerdo fills his spot. Guedes has trained with the team and should be back shortly. 

For offense, Rodrigo is the notable absence. With all the rumors circulating about the interest from Barcelona and a likely transfer, many will see this as a sign that he is on his way out. There was some news that he traveled with Cillissen and Manu Vallejo to Barcelona to have their injuries looked at. It remains to be seen how this will develop.

The starting XI features many changes from the weekend La Liga game. In defense, Correia and Costa are introduced in place of Wass and Gaya as full-backs. Also, Diakhaby joins Paulista in the center of defense with Garay absent.

In midfield, Kondogbia is given another start, this time alongside Parejo. To either side of them, Soler and Ferran occupy the flanks.

Celades gives Maxi a rest and opts for a striking partnership of Gameiro and Kang In. Again, Ferran and Kang In's positions are inter-changeable so it remains to be seen who will start where. Regardless, they will both bring a lot of energy and dynamism to the lineup.

Bench: Rivero, Mangala, Gaya, Coquelin, Esquerdo, Sobrino, Maxi Gomez


1' - Chance for Leonesa from a corner. The header is hit low but Domenech can get down quickly enough to save it.
6' - Correia plays the ball ahead into space for Ferran to run onto. Ferran passes his marker, looks up and crosses for Gameiro but the defender gets in the way of the shot. The ball goes out for a goal kick.
10' - Parejo with a loose pass but he makes up for it by pressuring the defender to win the ball back. He plays a great through ball for Ferran who squares the ball across goal but the defender gets to the ball ahead of both Gameiro and Soler who were on the prowl inside the box.
19' - Valencia's corners seem like they always go to waste. When the delivery is good, the header does not even hit the target.
23' - Early forced substitution for Cultural Leonesa due to injury. Calvan off, Pichin on.
27 - One of the worst free kicks possible. It was a good chance to get a cross into the box and the ball doesn't even make it past the first Leonesa defender.
31' - Gameiro spreads the ball out wide for Ferran who then returns it to Gameiro in space. The shot is blocked by a Leonesa defender for a corner.
42' - Correia doesn't seem to be having a good game. Many loose passes and difficulty controlling passes.
43' - Really good chance for Valencia. Parejo threads a pass to Gameiro in the box, he takes a touch to knock it past the defender and sets himself up for a shot. Unfortunately, it's over the cross bar.
44' - Another chance for Valencia. A throughball from midfield to Gameiro in a wide position. It is almost out of play but he barely keeps it and plays a sliding cross to the center. Correia clashes with a defender over the ball but he cannot get a shot on goal. The ball is cleared.

HALF-TIME: Pretty tame performance this first half. Leonesa is just the type of team that Valencia struggle against. They have almost everyone behind the ball defending, leaving little to no space and making them tough to break down. The team struggled with this for the majority of the half but managed to set up some decent chances towards the end with some precise quick passing. Unfortunately nothing came of those chances. On the other end, Leonesa hasn't really troubled the Valencia goal. Just two decent chances at the beginning and the end of the half. Adding to the challenge this game is some loose passing, with deteriorating quality especially in the final third. Hopefully, better chances will come in the second half.

55' - It doesn't look like it's improved so far. The complacency in passing is making a lot of chances go to waste.
61' - Soler draws a foul at the edge of the area, winning a free kick in a useful position.
62' - Valencia with their first substitution. Kang In Lee is replaced by Maxi Gomez. This will add something different in attack.
64' - Parejo's free kick is hit straight at the wall.
70' - Yellow card for Kondogbia. It didn't look like a foul, it seemed like the player kicked the ball and the follow-through hit Kondogbia causing pain to the player.
72' - Yellow card for Montes. He fouled Correia and then uttered some verbal abuse at him while he was on the ground.
73' - Yellow card for Soler. He used handled an opposing player to stop his run.
74' - Second change for each of the teams. Castaneda on for Araujo. Gaya on for Jaume Costa.
77' - Great combination play from Valencia. Gaya and Soler exchange passes back and forth. Soler plays it to Gameiro in the box who the picks out Maxi first time. Maxi, with his back to goal, plays the ball back to Parejo in space but the shot is off-target. Needs to do better there and hit the target. Good build-up but no final product.
79'- Final change for Cultural Leonesa, Marcos on for Martinez.
82' - Final change for Valencia. Kondogbia is swapped for Coquelin.
86' - Cultural Leonesa with their best chance of the game from a counter attack on the left flank. The cross finds Benito but Jaume with a quick reflex save to deny the effort.
89' - Correia with a terrible back-pass to Domenech, resulting a last minute corner. Luckily, it's easy for him to deal with.
90' - Five minutes of time is added for stoppages by the referee.
90+2' - Yellow card for Aitor for a late challenge on Diakhaby, hitting him tail bone with a sliding tackle.
90+4' - Cultural Leonesa with an effort from the edge of the penalty box but it's hit straight at Domenech, good height and right in the middle.

FULL-TIME (Extra-Time Next): The second half barely had any improvement on the first. There is a scarcity of chances. The team will now have to play 30 minutes of extra-time and a possible penalty shoot-out which nobody wants to play, especially against Cultural Leonesa. This just adds unnecessary fatigue to the team, ahead of a very important month. Extra time also gives each team an additional substitution to make. For Valencia, there is Rivero, Mangala, Esquerdo and Sobrino on the bench left. A substitute using any of those players would likely be for fresh legs or in case of an injury but not really an impact change. Sobrino can surprise off the bench as he has done before, but he is highly unpredictable in terms of performance.

96' - Cultural Leonesa with a splitting through ball behind Gaya, leaving the Luque clear on goal. Fortunately, his Domenech denies him with a great save. Too close for comfort.
98' - Both teams use their extra substitutions. Sobrino comes in for Gameiro. Dominguez on for Galvan.
100' - Paulista looks like he's struggling with some sort of knock/injury. No more substitutions are left though.
104' - Gaya plays the ball to Sobrino in the box. Sobrino heads it down for Soler to shoot but the shoot has too much power and it flies way over the goal. Composure was needed there. It was a good chance. One minute added by the referee for stoppages.
105+1' - Awful free kick delivery in the dying minutes from Parejo. It misses literally everyone. Yellow card for Castaneda for protesting the free kick.

106' - Valencia set up a good chance early in the second half. Gaya plays a cross to the far edge of the box where Ferran receives in space. He hits it well but the keeper makes a good save to maintain the tie.
109' - Gaya wins a free kick. Parejo delivers to the far side where Ferran waits again, he attempts to cross it on the volley but he fumbles the effort and it's out.
111' - Ferran involved in another chance. He receives the ball centrally, goes past the defender at the edge of the box and runs wide with it, all the while making the angle at goal smaller. He fires at goal but the effort is wide.
114' - Parejo seems to be at his fatigue limit. He's walking a lot and struggling with it.
115' - Gaya plays a quick pass ahead to Soler. He takes a touch and a look up before shooting at goal but it's straight at the keeper.
116 ' - Corner for Leonesa and they bring everyone but the keeper forward to the Valencia half. The corner is cleared by Valencia and a counter attack starts. Sobrino drives the ball forward on the right-flank and waits for support. He gets tackled and wins a free kick. Yellow card for Pichin for that challenge.
119' - Best chance in a long time for Valencia. Gaya makes a run along the goall line and pulls it back. It's a game of pinball in the box. It falls to Sobrino in space but he takes too many touches and his shot is blocked.

PENALTY SHOOT OUT: This is the only way left to split these two teams. Leonesa will take the first kick.

0-0: Jaume with a save! Menudo is denied!
0-1: Coquelin scores! Blasted right into the roof of goal with the keeper going right.
0-1: Jaume stops the penalty again! Benito leaves disappointed. Same side, almost identical save!
0-2: Soler sends the keeper the wrong way and passes the ball into the net! Good lead!
1-2: Pichin gets the first one for Leonesa. Lots of power and Jaume goes the opposite way.
1-3: Maxi Gomez scores this time! The keeper guesses the right way but Maxi places it in the top corner.
2-3: Montes scores. Jaume barely moved for that one.
2-4: Parejo scores and Valencia goes through! The keeper goes the wrong way.


Not a convincing or pretty display by any measure but the result is there. It took all the way to the penalty shoot-out to split these two teams which are quite far apart in stature. The opposition was tough to break down and it look like the game was going to go all the way even early on.

Jaume Domenech was the clear man of the match here. Two saves in the shoot-out early on and great reflexes to deny earlier efforts from open play.

Overall, nothing to be too happy about. Too much effort and fatigue was exerted to achieve this results and qualify. However, games like this tend to bring the team together and build resilience.

The draw for the quarter finals happens on Thursday and the fixtures will get tougher than this. Let's hope the team fares better in those games.

Next game is on Saturday against Celta Vigo at Mestalla in La Liga. Amunt!