Thursday, October 22, 2020

La Liga Matchday #7: Elche CF 2 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread


Last week Kondogbia made statements on Instagram condemning Anil Murthy and criticizing his impact at the club. Specifically, he credits him with ruining a winning project and deceiving both coach Javi Gracia and himself. Atletico had given up Thomas Partey to Arsenal very late this transfer window and have been permitted an extension is signing a player due to the special circumstance. They had their eyes on Kondogbia and were hoping to secure a loan deal. It looked like the player himself was interested in the the deal but it was rejected, probably due to the nature of the deal. The club wanted liquidity and believed that they could get a good sum of cash in the form of a sale. 

Before his comments, Kondogbia was beginning to arrive late and miss some parts of training, and now after making the comments he also missed some time in training. The club had originally cited "personal issues" as reason for some of the absences but he also has an injury in his heel. No doubt there were also repercussions to him from the club for making those statements, possibly a fine. While some have said that the comments were unprofessional to make, they do provide confirmation that the players are not happy with Murthy and by extension Peter Lim. They see them as having a negative role in the club.

Speaking of Murthy, he recently gave a speech at an event where Valencia renewed its commitment to serve as a food bank to help with the COVID pandemic. In that speech, he reiterated that he has belief in the squad, and that the changes in the summer were necessary. His takeaway from the Villareal game was that the team was almost ready to compete at the top level. Not many would share his point of view.

The other news this week was the firing of Alex Navarro, the Valencia communications director, who has spent 16 years working in that department. The replacement was readily available. Peter Lim had sent someone from Singapore a while back, by the name of Joey Lim (not related). There were many speculations as to what his role would be. Some rumors said he was there for property management of the old and new stadiums while other speculated that he was there to take over for Murthy. He has now taken over Alex Navarro's role. One more pawn piece for Lim in the club.


Elche played Alaves away from home in the previous matchday and walked away with a secure 0-2 win. The first resulted from a counter-attack late in the first half that the keeper got a hand on but couldn't keep out. The second was late in the second half from a set-piece, that was headed in.

Valencia played their derby game against Villareal and suffered a 2-1 loss away from home. Alcacer put the home team in front with an early penalty. Guedes leveled the score before half-time with a great piece of individual skill to score from distance. Parejo would grab the winner in the second half with a shot that deflected off Diakhaby and into the goal. 

Elche and Valencia are tied at 7 points a piece in 12th position in the league. However, Elche has only played 4 games while Valencia played 6.


Elche: WDWL
Valencia: LLWDL


In defense, Mangala has been recovered and joins the squad list for this game. In midfield, Kondogiba's absence continues and Esquerdo is returns from injury. In offense, Maxi Gomez suffered an injury and misses this game.

The big challenge will be finding a source of goals with Maxi Gomez injured. Vallejo has shown that he can be lethal in front of goal but is a different type of player to Maxi. Some reports were saying that Gracia was experimenting with Lato and Gaya on the left and playing Vallejo as a striker.


20' - Goal for Elche. 1-0. Josan Fernandes takes on Gaya on the right flank, beats him, cuts inside and into penalty area, making a curling shot that beats Jaume at the far post.
37' - Goal for Elche. 2-0. Josan Fernandes draws the attention of Wass and Diakhaby at the edge of the box, before laying it off for Fidel Chaves who takes the shot first time and beats Jaume from distance.
44' - Yellow card shown to Paulista for retaliation on a challenge from Pere Milla. The referee had whistled for the foul but Paulista still lost his cool and decided to take matters into his own hands.


Not a good half by any means from Valencia. The team goes in 2-0 down at half-time with little to no signs shown that they can overcome this deficit.

The first 20 minutes of the game where rather uneventful. The ball travelled back and forth as possession of the ball changed hands over and over again with no real danger. 

Elche would get the first chance of the game as the wing-back Josan made a run forward forcing Gaya to run back and defend while Gaya was drawn away by the winger. Josan managed to beat Gaya and cut into the box and beat Jaume. 

Aside from the goal the game had been roughly even before this. Once the goal came though, Valencia looked really vulnerable for a second. The times that Valencia did get forward they did not look likely to score. The offensive plays are too passive and slow and by the time the players put 2 passes together, the entire Elche team has settled into their defensive positions. The quick breaks we saw from this team in the first few games were nowhere to be seen. This forced the team to go wide to break down the defense. With there being no target man available to pick out with a cross, the play would get stuck there and Elche would get back possession. From the strikers that are available on the field, they all prefer the ball at their feet rather than their head. Even then, there weren't any runs into the box when the ball was in a wide position.

Elche eventually grabbed their second goal through their second wing-back. The first drew away the attention of the defense and then set-up a good shot for the second to beat Jaume from outside the box. 

Major changes are needed in half-time or the result could get much worse.

Half-time stats. 3-1 shots, 2-0 shots on target, 58-42% possession, 85-82% pass accuracy.


45' - First change for Elche. Lucumi is replaced by Morente. No changes from Valencia yet but players are warming up.
51' - Musah with a wonderful cross into the box to pick out Gaya, who had gotten there head of his marker. He hits it straight at the keeper though. That should've been a certain goal.
59' - First change for Valencia. Diakhaby is replaced by Guillamon. Diakhaby was suffering massive discomfort as he was hit with a knee to his right thigh.
62' - Second change for Elche. Rigoni is replaced by Kone
67' - Correia does well to dispossess the opposition in advanced position. He passes to Gameiro who finds Gaya wide. Gaya squares the ball for Soler at the edge of the area, who shoots straight at the keeper.
68' - Double change for Valencia. Kang In and Vallejo on, Gaya and Guedes off.
70' - Paulista tries a shot from a long way out and forces the keeper to make a diving save.
73' - Correia plays a one-two with Gameiro at the edge of the Elche penalty area, gets into the box and tries a shot at the near post but it's wide.
74' - Goal Valencia! 2-1! Kang In with a brilliant through ball to find the run of Lato, putting him clean through on goal. He side steps the advancing keeper and calmly finishes into the empty net. Kang In with instant impact off the bench.
75' - Vallejo gets into the penalty area and gets a shot, it beats the keeper but is cleared off the goal-line by the Elche defender. Valencia getting closer.
77' - Yellow card shown to Raul Guti for a tackle on Soler. Great position for a free kick.
85' - Final set of changes for Valencia. Racic and Jason replace Wass and Musah
86' - Yellow card shown to Fidel Chaves for tugging on the shirt of Jason
90' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages
90+1' - Second change for Elche. Raul Guti off, Mfulu on
90+3' - Yellow card shown to Barragan for dissent against the referee
90+4' - Final change for Elche. Josan is replaced by Calvo
90+5' - Yellow card shown to Lato for a heavy challenge.


It was a decent try from Valencia in the second half but they walk out with no points from this game.

Valencia started the second half with a chance from Gaya that was hit straight at the keeper. Correia's efforts would get Valencia another chance as he dispossessed the opposition in their own half, but the resulting shot from Soler was hit straight at the keeper yet again.

It took Gracia around 23 minutes into the second half to make his first tactical changes, bringing on Kang In and Vallejo. The former had instant impact and set up Lato's goal with a well timed through ball.

Vallejo would get his own chance at goal but his shot was cleared off the line by the defender after he beat the keeper. 

There was a tense few last minutes and eventually Elche saw out the remaining time without conceding.

Despite the general poor performance, this game was lost in the first half. If Valencia played the same way in the first as they did in the second, the scoreline would totally be different. This is an established pattern under the Gracia system where the team almost always struggles in the first half and needs to be woken up in half-time to produce a decent performance.

It was unfortunate to see Diakhaby get injured but Guillamon showed that he can seamlessly fill that role. Mangala is also available if Gracia so chooses.

The team also needs Kondogbia's presence in midfield. Just because using Wass in a central midfield role worked for one game, doesn't mean it will keep working. Hopefully, the situation with Kondogbia can be sorted out soon so he can return to the field.

Correia had a great performance throughout the half and seemed to be doing the work of two players in defense and offense. Kang In also had showed desire and hunger after spending so much time on the bench and looks like he's ready to play again.

Full-time stats. 3-14 shots, 2-4 shots on target, 46-54% possession, 82-86% pass accuracy.

Next game is on the 1st of November at Mestalla against Getafe.