Showing posts with label La Liga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Liga. Show all posts

Monday, December 7, 2020

La Liga Matchday #12: SD Eibar 0 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread

NEWS

Anil Murthy participated in another interview this past week in which he commented on the situation of the club and plans in the near future. He denied that Valencia sold their best players this past transfer window, and claims that the best players are still here, citing Gaya as an example. He also reiterated that Peter Lim has never had any intention of selling the club. He further denied claims that Peter Lim's strategy is to make profit from player sales, referencing the annual losses as proof that this isn't happening. Additionally, he talked about how they are betting on the academy for years to come and that he predicts that they will win La Liga within the next ten years if their bet pays off. He specifically talks about the 4-1 win against Real Madrid as an indicator of the potential of this young team. He also believes the silent majority of fans are proud of the team. Finally, he showed uncertainty when asked whether there will be signings in the January transfer window. Read the full interview here.


PREVIEW

Eibar managed to take all 3 points from their previous fixture in La Liga by beating Real Betis 0-2 away from home. Despite the home team enjoying the majority of possession, Eibar would create more chances and more importantly convert them. With their first half goal overturned due to VAR, they would take the lead early in the second with a set-piece header, and extend their advantage soon after with a penalty.

Valencia lost in an unfortunate manner to Atletico Madrid at Mestalla in the last matchday. Valencia had hoped to hold on as long as they could, soaking up the pressure from Atletico Madrid in hopes of catching them on the counter. They would manage to keep things under control for 70 minutes when an own goal from Lato would prove to be the difference between the teams with the match ending 0-1 at 90 minutes.

Eibar are currently 13th and Valencia 16th in the league standings with 13 and 12 points respectively from 11 games. The two teams are both within 2 point reach of the relegation spots.

FORM

Eibar: WDDLW
Valencia: LDWDL

SQUAD

Guillamon picked up an injury in the previous game but is also suspended due to accumulation of yellow cards so he will certainly miss this game. The good news is that Diakhaby should be available to pair up with Paulista after recovering from his injury.

Gaya and Cillissen are still in recovery from their injuries. Meanwhile, Cheryshev and Kang-In have reportedly tested positive for COVID. 


FIRST HALF

2' - Guedes tries a shot from distance but the keeper deals with it
34' - Kike gets a shot on target following a cross but Jaume save it
41' - Yellow card shown to Esteban Burgos for a challenge on Manu Vallejo
42' - Wass hits the target from the free kick but it simple for the keeper to save
44' - Yellow card shown to Anaitz Arbilla for a challenge on Manu Vallejo.
45' - The delivery into the box from the free kick results in tame shot on target from Vallejo.
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages

HALF-TIME

Half-time stats. 6-3 shots, 1-2 shots on target, 60-40 %possession, 72-48 %pass accuracy

SECOND HALF

52' - A delivery from Soler into the box is headed back out. Racic strikes the ball on the volley and forces a save from the keeper. The save deflects off the inside of the post and back out. Vallejo tries to get to it first but the keeper responds quicker.
56' - Yellow card shown to Racic for a late challenge on Roberto Correa
60' - Nice counter attack from Valencia as Soler threads a nice through ball for Vallejo to run into space. Vallejo puts in a cross to the far post where Maxi Gomez has found some space. Maxi controls well and instead of taking the shot himself opts to try to find Soler but the defender intercepts the pass.
69' - Yellow card shown to Sergi Alvarez for a challenge on Vallejo
70' - First change for Eibar, Takashi Inui is replaced by Alejandro Pozzo
71' - Double change for Valencia. Musah and Vallejo are replaced by Jason and Gameiro
82' - Second substitution for Eibar. Yoshimuro muto off, Sergi Enrich on
83' - Valencia with their next change, Correia replaces Lato
85' - Jaume with a fantastic save to stop the shot from the free kick. It initially looked like a cross and but he reacted well, basically scooping it out of the goal.
86' - Final change for Eibar. Serio Alvarez off, Recio on
87' - Jaume with another great save to deny Sergi Enrich from close range
90' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages
90+3' - Yellow card shown to Maxi Gomez for a challenge from behind on Recio
90+4' - What a chance! Gameiro put clean through on goal by Jason but he fails to beat the keeper. That would've been the winner

FULL-TIME

Full-time stats. 19-6 shots, 3-4 shots on target, 64-36 %possession, 75-46 %pass accuracy.

A wasted opportunity to climb in the table and the relegation spots remain within Valencia's field of vision. The best chance for the team came in the last minute with Jason setting up Gameiro but the latter could not put it past the keeper.

On the other end, Jaume did well to keep the game level and takes big credit in the team walking away with one point.

The next game for Valencia is on Saturday the 12th at Mestalla against Athletic Bilbao

Saturday, November 28, 2020

La Liga Matchday #11: Valencia CF 0 - 1 Atletico Madrid Match Thread

 NEWS

Denis Cheryshev has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. The squad has party trained individually as a result. Cheryshev will miss a few games until he recovers.

Gabriel Paulista is on track to secure his Spanish passport. No date has been given yet but it should be soon. This will free up a non-EU slot on the team. As reported last week, this will be useful in case Yunus Musah needs one, or in case any planned signing does as well.

PREVIEW

Valencia played out a 2-2 draw away to Deportivo Alaves in their previous La Liga fixture. The team failed to show in the first half and gave Alaves a 2-0 advantage going into half-time. They then did well to recover in the second half, grabbing to goals via Guillamon and Vallejo to even the score. They could've gone further and snatched a win, but poor finishing from very good chances in the final minutes, denied them the opportunity.

Atletico managed a 1-0 home win in La Liga against Barcelona last week. They took the lead as a result of first half stoppage time mistake from Ter Stegen when he left his penalty area but failed to get to the ball before Cararasco. The player beat him to the ball, went around him and finished into the empty net from distance. 

Atletico also played a 0-0 home draw against Lokomotiv Moskow in their mid-week Champions League game. Despite dominating the entire game in almost every stat and every area of the pitch, they could not break the tie. They have an upcoming fixture away to Bayern Munich in the middle of this coming week.

Valencia are currently 9th with 12 points from 10 games while Atletico are 2nd with 20 points from 8 games.

FORM (**all competitions)

Valencia: DWDLL

Atletico Madrid: DWWWW

SQUAD

This week confirmed that Gaya will be out 3-4 weeks due to the injury he picked up late against Alaves. Cheryshev will miss this game due to the positive COVID test.

Cillisssen and Diakhaby are still dealing with their injuries. Maxi Gomez just managed to squeeze into the lineup but with caution. Mangala is back and available for selection.

FIRST-HALF

13' - Shot from Lemar deflects off Soler and forces Jaume to make a finger-tip save
22' - Great team play from Valencia. Guedes and Musah link up with one-two on the right flank before Guedes finds Soler at the edge of the area. Soler sends a well-timed lob over the defense to pick out Racic who had snuck in behind the defender on the left. Racic takes a shot at goal but Oblak parries it out for a corner. The shot looked more like a scuffed cross. Maxi Gomez was asking it for it in the center.
28' - Yellow card shown to Racic for an arm to the head of Llorente
38' - Counter-attack from Atletico is stalled through a great tackle by Racic. The ball falls to Lemar who swerves his way though the Valencia defenders and takes a shot just outside the penalty area, testing Jaume again. The keeper puts it out for a corner.
42' - Jaume makes another good save, this time to deny Correa at a tight angle
43' - Yellow card shown to Saul for dragging down Manu Vallejo

HALF-TIME

Valencia have shown up this first half and are doing well to hold Atletico at bay. They are mostly content with sitting back and absorbing the pressure from Atletico and striking them on the counter-attack
Atletico have enjoyed the majority of possession and chances as a result of the playstyle Valencia chose for this game as well as their own imposing presence on the game. They have the majority of chances, most of which have come from outside the penalty area and all to which Jaume has saved well.
Valencia usually come into life in the second half and impose themselves on the game. When they do a decent job in the first half, they set themselves up to go for a win in the second instead of having to climb up to make up a one or two goal deficit.
Atletico have looked vulnerable on the counter-attack. Unfortunately poor final passes from several players has made the dangerous fizzle out into nothing.
Half-time stats. 4-9 shots, 2-4 shots on target, 31-69% possession, 76-86% pass accuracy.

SECOND-HALF

45' - First change for Atletico Madrid. Joao Felix replaces Renan Lodi
53' - Llorente gets a pass just behind Wass and makes a cross into the box which Jaume gets a touch on. The ball falls to Lemar with Jaume out of position. Lemar takes the shot but Wass steps in and blocks it. Guillamon appears to have picked up an injury in the process and signals to the bench that he needs to be subbed.
56'- Yellow card shown to Gullamon for taking his time in walking off. He will miss the next game due to accumulated bookings.
57' - Valencia make their first substitution. Mangala replaces Guillamon.
59' - Second change for Atletico Madrid. Carrasco on, Saul off.
62' - Yellow card shown to Correa for a tackle from behind on Guedes
65' - Final set of changes for Atletico. Vitolo and Kondogbia come on for Correa and Lemar
69' - Second set of changes for Valencia. Musah, Maxi Gomez and Vallejo are replaced by Correia, Gameiro and Sobrino
75' - Yellow card shown to Llorete for a handball and kicking the ball away in frustration after the foul got called
79' - Goal for Atletico Madrid. 0-1. Toni Lato puts the ball in his own net off the cross from Carrasco
81' - Yellow card shown to Joao Felix for a handball
82' -  Yellow card shown to Coke for a high boot to the face of Correia
84' - Final change for Valencia. Jason replaces Wass.
90'- Four minutes of stoppage time added by the referee.

FULL-TIME

After holding on for nearly 70 minutes without incident, the team gets undone by an own goal. Unfortunate but often happens when a team is exposed to this much pressure without an outlet.

Atletico built on their advantages in possession and chances that they had in the first half. Simeone responded early and made substitutions that have made a difference to the team.

Gracia took a bit longer to make his substitutions. The first one forced by the injury to Guillamon. Then, he made triple substitution at around minute 70 bringing on Gameiro, Sobrino and Correia for Maxi Gomez, Manu Vallejo and Musah. 

The game did not need Gameiro or Sobrino. The only reason for that would be if Maxi Gomez's injury has not fully healed. The team was struggling with the final pass. They were not getting chances and failing to convert them. This game needed Kang In to address the lack of good chances. 

With Gracia's second half plan essentially being to hold out for a draw, the team could not really respond when they went down. A complete shift in mentality was required and there wasn't enough time to do that. Not against a team like Atletico.

Full-time stats. 5-14 shots, 2-6 shots on goal, 32-68 %possession, 73-85 %pass accuracy.

Next game is away to Eibar on Monday December 7th.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

La Liga Matchday #10: Deportivo Alaves SAD 2 - 2 Valencia CF Match Thread

 NEWS

During the international break, Gaya was involved in a heavy collision in the game against Switzerland. This caused him to get substituted early with a head injury. Despite looking serious from the pictures, the player recovered and played a few days later in Spain's dominant 6-0 win over Germany, assisting 2 goals in the process. His team topped their group in the Nations League.

Elsewhere, Cheryshev managed to score one goal for Russia but his team suffered two defeats, a close on against Turkey and a heavy one against Serbia,

Back in Valencia, there were developments as well. Joey Lim was recently announced to join the board of directors, adding yet another voice of Peter Lim in the board room. 

Also, a new clause has been proposed about the requirements to attend a shareholder meeting. Previously, only 9 shares were enough to grant access to the meeting. This could change on December 11, where the number could see a  jump to 3,598 shares. People with shares less than that must aggregate together to reach the number and delegate a representative among them to attend on behalf of the group.

In addition, Valencia presented some numbers with regards to the financials of the the past season and this one. The highlights are as follows:

  •  Valencia recorded a loss of around 8 million euros in the 2019-20 season despite 60.8 million euros gained from reaching the Round of 16. 
  • For the 2020-21 season, the budget will see a drop from 172 million euros (2019-20 season) to around 119 million euros
  • For the 2020-21 season, the income from TV rights will increase from 74 million euros to 89 million euros.
  • For the 2020-21 season, the amount of money spent on the workforce will drop from 97 million euros to around 70 million euros.
  • For the 2020-21 season, the expected deficit is 26.4 million euros
  • As a result, there is expectation that 41 million euros of income needs to be generated through sales, of which Kondogbia's sale will go towards.
La Liga announced the wage spending of clubs with Valencia dropping from 5th highest (177 million euros) last season to 7th season (103 million euros)

On the topic of the plan to repurchase Valencia, the Libertad Valencia group has managed to raise 1% of the value of the club's shares.

With regards to player contracts, Kang In has put his contract talks on hold while Yunus Musah is on track to renew. The club also has plans to renew Facu Gonzalez, a promising 17-year old Uruguayan defender from the academy, with 2 clubs already reportedly willing to match his release clause in the next transfer market (one in La Liga, one in Premier League). 

There were discussions of the national team of choice for Yunus Musah. He holds a dual passport (USA, England) but he is eligible to play for Ghana, Italy, England or the USA. It was recently reported though that should he choose the USA and with the Brexit cut-off date of December 31 approaching, it would be make him a non-EU player. Valencia has a limit of 3 non-EU players and those slots are currently occupied by Maxi Gomez, Kang In Lee and Gabriel Paulista. This has already caused Valencia to miss out on some signings in the transfer market. Should it happen that he does become a non-EU player, the remaining approach would be to apply for an Italian passport.

Finally, there were words from multiple people on the current situation in Valencia. Marcelino has criticized how management tells Gracia one thing and then does another. Amadeo Salvo has called the management not good and ruled out a return at the current moment. Murthy has said that the toxicity in the dressing room has been eliminated. He also said that he understands the current tension between him and the coach and that the club is bigger than any single person. Javi Gracia responded in the press conference by saying that he does want to be distracted and the statements don't help him.

PREVIEW

Alaves come into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw away from home against Levante. They took the lead early in the game but were then reduced to 10-men with a red card in the 34 minute. They conceded 5 minutes into the second half and managed to hold on till the final whistle.

Valencia produced a great display to beat Real Madrid 4-1 at Mestalla last fixture. Madrid went ahead early but Valencia turned it by forcing a penalty and an own goal out of Real Madrid. The second half saw Valencia pressure Real Madrid and win two more penalties. All three penalties were converted cooly by Carlos Soler for his hat-trick.

Alaves are currently 15th with 9 points in 9 games while Valencia are 11th with 11 points from 9 games.

FORM

Alaves: DDWLW
Valencia: WDLLL

SQUAD

Diakhaby, Mangala and Maxi Gomez are all still out with injuries. 


FIRST HALF

2' - Goal for Deportivo Alaves. 1-0. Corner delivery from Lucas Perez is volleyed by Navarro past Jaume. Navarro had wait just outside the box and made unmarked run to meet the corner.
14' - Penalty awarded to Alaves. The home team exploited the space left behind Gaya to counter attack, finding Navarro out wide. Guillamon attempted to stop him but he was beat and Navarro got into the box before being taken down by the youngster.
16' - Goal for Deportivo Alaves. 2-0. Lucas Perez converts the penalty. Jaume guessed the correct direction but the penalty was well-taken into the top corner.
37' - Yellow card shown to Florian Lejeune for a heavy challenge on Gameiro
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages.

SECOND HALF

53' - Yellow card is shown to Guillamon for a foul on Joselu. The referee had initially waived the play to go on for advantage, returning later to show the player the card.
56' - First substitution of the match, Manu Garcia replaces Jota
58' - Double change for Valencia. Kang-In and Cheryshev are replaced by Guedes and Vallejo
61' - There was a penalty claim for an alleged handball by Guedes. Despite VAR calling the referee to check, he maintains his original call that it wasn't a handball.
70' - A goal from Alaves's Laguardia is overturned after he handles the ball in the buildup to the goal
72' - Two incoming changes for Alaves. Guidetti and Sainz come on for Joselu and Lucas Perez
74' - Goal for Valencia! 2-1! Good build up to the goal as well. Gaya found Racic in the center of the field, who then plays a short pass to Soler. Soler plays a through ball to Gameiro who races to the keeper for it and just beats him to it, squaring the ball to Vallejo who had no trouble finishing into the empty net.
77' - Goal for Valencia! 2-2! Guillamon heads Carlos Soler's free kick delivery into the net. There is enough time still to go for the win. VAR reviews for a potential offside but the Alaves player had clearly played Guillamon onside, so the goal stands.
89' - Substitution for Valencia as Gaya appears to have been injured, Toni Lato is his replacement
90' - Eight minutes added by the referee for stoppages

FULL-TIME

Back to old ways. A poor first half performance, a half-time wake-up call, and a struggle in the second to tie the score. There were chances in stoppage time to grab a winner as well but the team failed to take them. Valencia did well to come-back into the game and almost take the win.

Whether the international break is the cause of this or not this time has yet to be seen. Gracia needs to get the team back to the point where they can play with intensity for 90 minutes. The team should be capable of that as we have seen it before. 

The goals and chances in the second half were set-up really well and if the team started off with that level of play, the game would've been totally different. Maxi Gomez should return next week as well which should give Valencia an added edge in attack.

Full-time stats. 13-13 shots, 3-5 shots on target, 34-66% possession, 68-84% pass accuracy

Next game is on Saturday November 28th at Mestalla against Atletico Madrid. The team needs to show the best version of itself that day against a very good team.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

La Liga Matchday #9: Valencia CF 4 - 1 Real Madrid CF Match Thread

 NEWS

Since his transfer, Kondogbia has trained with Atletico and even came on a substitution in their 4-0 win over Cadiz this matchday.

Gracia gave pre-match news conference in which he was asked about whether there would be a winter signing to replace Kondogbia. He refused to answer and said that he preferred to talk about the players he currently has and not what he doesn't have.

The other news revolved around which national team Yunus Musah would play for with some indication that it will the United States National Team.

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game having played out an intense 2-2 draw at home to Getafe. Javi Gracia successfully got the team to get into the game in the first half and even took the lead with a Yunus Musah goal on the counter. Getafe would struggle to get the equalizer despite Valencia being reduced to 10 men after a 10 minute period where Correia got yellow carded twice. In the last few minutes of regular time, Getafe equalized after Jaume failed to clear the ball from the initial save. Moments later in injury time, Getafe grabbed what they thought would be the winning goal before conceding a late penalty which Carlos Soler converted to give the teams a point a piece.

Real Madrid played 2 games this past week, a 4-1 home win against Huesca in La Liga and a 3-2 home win against Inter Milan in the Champions League. The former of the two games was a dominant display by them going 4 goals up before dropping their guard and conceding a goal in the final 20 minutes of the second half. The latter game saw Real Madrid looking vulnerable for a period as Inter Milan made up a 2 goal deficit to even the game. They would still come out winners after a late goal from Rodrygo in the second half.

Valencia are currently 15th in the league with 8 points from 8 games. Real Madrid are 3rd with 16 points from 7 games.

FORM (all competitions)

Valencia: DLLLW

Real Madrid: WWWLW

SQUAD

Diakhaby will miss this game as he continues to recover from the injury he picked up against Elche. Mangala also struggles with an injury problem and will miss this game. Finally, Cillissen picked up a training injury this week. More tests are required to determine the extent but he will miss this game as well.

Correia picked up a red card in the previous fixture against Getafe and is suspended from this game. Wass is the likely option but Gracia hinted that there were other options as well. In training sessions, Jason has practiced in that role so that could be what the coach is talking about. 

FIRST HALF

12' - Good save from Jaume to deny Modric's shot from the edge of the area.

23' - Goal for Real Madrid. 0-1. Benzema plays a one-two with Marcelo, receiving the ball at the edge of the box and striking it at goal. The ball seemed pretty close to Jaume yet he couldn't save it. May be he could've done better with that but it seems like his vision was blocked.

28' - Penalty awarded to Valencia. Guillamon plays a diagonal ball for Gaya who hits it first time for the cross and it strikes the hand of Vazquez in the penalty area. Carlos Soler steps up to take it.

29' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1! Soler's penalty is saved by Courtois and the ball falls back into play. Soler takes a second try and it hits the post. The deflection falls to Yunus Musah who makes no mistake in beating Courtois. VAR is checking the run of Yunus Musah into the box as he appears to have gotten into the box before the kick was taken.

33' - The goal is overturned and the penalty will be retaken. It appears Vazquez also encroached into the box so a retake is a fair decision. Game is still at 0-1.

35' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1. Soler successfully converts this time, narrowly squeezing it past Courtois. Great confidence from Soler after missing the first time.

40' - Yellow card shown to Soler for a foul on Asensio who had gotten away from him

44' - Goal for Valencia! 2-1! Racic leads the counter-attack for Valencia and picks out a great through ball for Maxi Gomez out wide on the right. Maxi puts in a cross for Cheryshev and hits Varane who, under pressure from Cheryshev, puts the ball into the goal. Courtois attempted to scoop it out but it had passed the line. The play initially moved on but VAR gives the goal to Valencia as an own-goal by Varane.

45' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages.

HALF-TIME

A good first half by Valencia. They took the game to Real Madrid and did not look the weaker team. The team learned from the vulnerabilities shown by Real Madrid in the mid-week Champions League fixture against Inter, absorbing the pressure and hitting back with quick counters.

Real Madrid took the lead just past the 20 minute mark with a Benzema shot after having exchanged passes with Marcelo. Jaume, with his vision, block reacted late having initially began diving one way and adjusting mid-way.

It took Valencia only 5 minutes to strike back with Gaya winning a penalty after his cross struck the hand of Vazquez in the penalty area. The penalty was saved, the spilled ball hit by Soler at the post and the rebound scored by Musah. The goal was overruled after Musah encroached into the box before the kick was taken. However, with Vazquez also encroaching the kick was retaken and scored by Soler.

Valencia did not let up the pressure and another counter, this time lead by Racic, resulted in a cross by Maxi Gomez to Cheryshev which was turned in by Varane to his own goal, giving Valencia a lead to take into half-time.

Still a lot of work to do in the second half, no doubt. The team need to continue to maintain focus while attempting to absorb the increasing pressure from Real Madrid. They will no doubt leave more spaces as they try to equalize and go for the win. Valencia must exploit those spaces. 

Valencia have had much success going down the left flank and most attacking plays go through there. Real Madrid have similarly attacked through their own left flank.

Half-time stats. 3-5 shots, 1-4 shots on target, 41-59% possession, 85-90% pass accuracy. 

SECOND HALF

45' - A bad pass from Guillamon to Paulista is intercepted by Vinicius, setting up a 2 v 1 at the back. Jaume is quick to react and clear the ball once before running out of his own box to clear again as Benzema approaches. Great clean-up work by Jaume to mitigate the consequences of Guillamon's mistake

47' - Soler finds Kang-In in a tight pocket in an advanced position. Kang In takes a turn and hits the ball from distance. Courtois just gets his fingertips to it and it changes course to hit the post and out.

51' - Gaya takes on Vazquez and squeezes by him. He finds Cheryshev who plays a pass back in to find Gaya again. Gaya drives forward and attempts another cross to Maxi but Marcelo intervenes and takes out the Uruguayan, winning a penalty.

52' - Yellow card shown to Marcelo for the challenge on Maxi Gomez as Soler steps up to take the penalty.

53' - Goal for Valencia! 3-1! Another confident finish from Soler to extend Valencia's lead. Courois guessed the right way again but it was hit with enough power to beat him.

57' - Isco finds Valverde at the edge of the box, he takes a touch and strikes at goal, Jaume saves but puts it back into play. Vinicius is first to react, takes a touch inside to get a better angle but skies the effort.

58' - Modric threads a ball through the defense, giving Asensio a great chance at goal. Jaume is quick off his line and smothers the effort.

59' - Yet another penalty awarded to Valencia for a handball by Ramos. Cheryshev picks a pass for Musah in the penalty box and as he battles with Ramos, the ball flies into the air and hits his hand. VAR took time to check but it is finally awarded. Yellow card shown to Ramos for the handball.

62' - Goal for Valencia! 4-1! Soler with a hat-trick of penalties, giving Valencia a 4-1 lead! So cool and collected to beat Courtois 3 times. Valencia need to remain calm and focused, they cannot get to excited.

64' - First set of changes for Real Madrid. Odegaard and Rodrygo replace Vinicius and Asensio.

75' - More changes from Real Madrid. Kroos and Mariano Diaz replace Valverde and Benzema

77' - Valencia with their first change, Cheryshev off, Toni Lato on.

80' - Second change for Valencia. Kang In is replaced by Gameiro. The youngster picked up a knock and signaled to the bench for a change. Hopefully, it's not too serious.

82' - Final substitution for Real Madrid. Isco is taken off for Luka Jovic

84' - Yellow card shown to Guillamon for handling Mariano Diaz

85' - Yellow card shown to Jaume for time-wasting

87' - Final set of changes for Valencia. Musah and Maxi Gomez off, Jason and Sobrino on.

90' - Six minutes added by the referee for stoppages

FULL-TIME

Good work by Valencia to hold on to their lead for as long as they did. The team put in a lot of hard work although admittedly there was a lot of luck involved in the result. They do say that luck is opportunity meets preparedness. Real Madrid gave up the chances very easily and Valencia were ready to take the chances they were given. 

There were many protagonists this game. Soler and Racic held their own and bossed against a world class midfield. Soler scored 3 goals today and is really stepping up as a leading figure in this team, taking on the pressure and converting the penalties against a world class keeper.  Gaya caused all sorts of trouble on the flank where most of the Valencia offensive plays occurred. Musah showed speed, power and intelligence to challenge Marcelo and even Ramos when given the chance. Jaume was focused and ready to react, holding the Valencia lead and allowing them to move forward without worry. 

The team performed exactly how Javi Gracia would've wanted them to, soaking the pressure and punishing Madrid on the break when possible. Despite Real Madrid thowing everything at Valencia in the second half, the team looked secure enough to deal with the efforts and the opposition did not look likely to score. All this, against the run of form that Valencia is in.

Full-time stats. 7-16 shots, 4-6 shots on target, 35-65% possession, 77-90% pass accuracy.

While this is a great win against the reigning Champions and an unlikely three points to win, the team needs to carry forward this momentum. This cannot be a one-game performance. The team played great but luck certainly played its part as well. 

There is a break now as the players head off for their international duties. This will give the team a chance to rest after the effort exerted today. A lot players seemed cramped up and picked up knocks. Next game is on the 22nd of November away to Alaves. Amunt!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

La Liga Matchday #8: Valencia CF 2 - 2 Getafe CF Match Thread

NEWS

Jose Luis Zarargosi resigned from the Valencia board of directors earlier this week. He had notably made a statement when the transfer market was still open that Valencia would, without a doubt, make a signing during the window. In the weeks to follow, Javi Gracia did not get any signings and it is clear that he remains at the club only to avoid his 3 million euro penalty. Seeing the situation as is prompted the director to resign. The official statement of the club though painted a different picture. It said that the director took responsibility for the failure of his mission in achieving social peace within the club. It should be said that Zaragosi was reportedly one of those at the board of directors who stood against the decision to fire Alemany.

Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, gave a speech this week at the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera higher education facility. The event revolved around the operations of La Liga and its plans for the future. During the event, the situation of Valencia was discussed. Tebas gave a lot of credit to Peter Lim saying: 

"It’s very difficult to evaluate how a club is run without knowing details. When Lim bought Valencia CF I remember that there were 25,000 people who turned out at the stadium to thank him. It seems as if we have forgotten that this man came along and avoided Valencia CF going into receivership -or even disappearing. Peter Lim has my full respect, as without being a Valencian he took this step. After that, there have been things he has got right, and also mistakes that have been made.[Link]

It's funny how his position completely turned around when he was one of those that initially opposed the purchase of Valencia CF by Peter Lim. Further research by one article shows that Peter Lim was instrumental in the opening of the first La Liga office in Singapore - a crucial part of La Liga's expansion plans in the South-East Asian scene. In addition, Peter Lim had reportedly invited Tebas to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix.

The most recent news surrounding Valencia is the closing of a deal between Valencia and Atletico Madrid for the purchase of Kondogiba. As reported by Cadena SER, the deal is a 15-20 million euro purchase deal with Valencia reserving 15% of rights of a future sale. The deal hasn't been confirmed by the club yet but most outlets are reporting this as a done deal. 

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game on the back of 2-1 away loss to Elche. Valencia was on the back-foot for the entirety of the first half and allowed Getafe to take a 2-0 to the half-time break. Valencia came into the game in the second half and, with the introduction of Kang In Lee, pulled one back through a Toni Lato goal assisted by Kang In.

Getafe suffered a 0-1 home loss when they hosted Granada in their last fixture. The difference between a sides was a penalty in the 3 minute of injury time in the first half which was converted by Granada. Getafe had double the shots but Granada had double the shots on target that game.

Valencia currently sit at 16th with 7 points from 7 games, 2 points above the relegation spots. Meanwhile Getafe are 8 with 10 points from 6 games.

FORM

Valencia: LLLWD

Getafe: LWLWD

SQUAD

With Kondogbia having not trained with the team for the past while, and there being rumors of his departure, it is no surprise if he is off the squad list for the game.

It was reported earlier in the week that Diakhaby would miss both the Getafe and Real Madrid games due to the injury he picked up against Elche.  Esquerdo will also miss this game through another injury.

The good news is that Maxi Gomez has recovered and trained with the team and is available for selection.

Apparently, Javi Gracia has been experimenting with alternatives in tactics. There were talks of a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, although it remains to be seen what the effect of Kondogbia's departure is on those plans. Additionally, Jason has been tested as a right-back during the training sessions.


FIRST HALF

10' - Getafe with a close chance to score from the corner. The delivery was flicked on to the far post where Olivera meets the ball with a header. He puts it over the crossbar.
17' - A throw-in from Getafe is header into the box and squared towards Cucurella who takes out his marker with one touch. He picks out Olivera to his left with plenty of time and space to pick his spot. Soler intervenes in the last second to block his shot.
22' - Goal for Valencia! 1-0! Musah with his debut goal for the team. Paulista clears the ball the delivery from the short corner with a header that sets up a counter attack lead by Musah and Cheryshev. Musah takes a great first touch to control the ball and chooses to go the distance himself despite Cheryshev being available. He drives the ball into the penalty box and successfully beats the keeper at his near post.
31' - Yellow card shown to Guillamon for tugging at Arambarri to stop his charge on the counter-attack
39' - Kang-In takes out his marker in midfield with a turn and threads a ball through to Gaya on the left. Gaya cuts inside to bypass the approaching marker and returns the ball to Kang In who sets the ball up for Wass to take a shot at the edge of the penalty area. The shot is tame enough for the keeper to save it without much trouble
41' - Yellow card shown to Paulista for a late challenge on Cucho Hernandez. Both central defenders are now on a yellow card for Valencia.
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages

HALF-TIME

One of the main problems in previous games was that the team only begins to try in the second half. Today, Javi Gracia successfully got the team to get into the game as early.

Getafe was more dangerous in the first part of the first half with 2 close chances. The first was a miss and the other denied by Carlos Soler. 

Valencia responded after that with a great counter-attack following a clearance of Getafe's corner. Yunus Musah led the break with pace and left his marker behind. Faced with a choice of passing to Cheryshev or taking it on himself, he chose the latter and calmly beat the keeper at his near post.

Valencia would maintain their hold on the game and see it out but not without cost. Both Gullamon and Paulista picked up yellow cards in the process which could come into play with 45 more minutes to play.

Half-time stats. 4-7 shots, 2-1 shots on target, 45-55% possession, 68-70% pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

48' - Yellow card shown to Correia for a late challenge on Maksimovic
53' - Double substitution for Getafe. Maksimovic and Nymo are replaced by Angel Rodriguez and Timor
56' - Second yellow card shown to Correia for a tug on the shirt of Cucurella. A red card is shown and he leaves the field
58' - Cucho Hernandez forces Jaume to make a save with a shot from the edge of the box. 
59' - First change for Valencia. Kang In Lee is replaced by Uros Racic. Wass takes over Correia's position in right-back and Racic takes over Wass's position in midfield.
61' - Yellow card shown to Maxi Gomez for an arm to the face of Cabaco
62' - Both the referee and the linesman miss a very late challenge on Gaya.
64' - Wass picks out Maxi Gomez who had dropped into midfield. Maxi finds Cheryshev in space on the left flank with great vision. Cheryshev takes a few touches and fires from distance after seeing he has no support. The shot is off-target.
68' - Yellow card shown to Yunus Musah for a retaliatory challenge on Cucurella.
71' - VAR overturns a red card shown to Arambarri for a dangerous lunge at Maxi Gomez. A yellow card is shown to the player instead.
73' - Triple substitution for Getafe. Cabaco, Olivera and Unal are taken off. Portillo, Jaime Mata and Diaby are their replacements.
75' - Yellow card shown to Cheryshev for a tug on Diaby's shirt. Gracia needs to make some changes to take some of the booked players off. A second red would be really dangerous.
78' - Second change for Valencia. Lato comes on for Cheryshev. 
80' - Angel Rodriguez with a narrow miss as he controlled the pass with his knee and volleyed it at goal
81' - A free kick won by Maxi Gomez is taken quickly by Soler and he picks out Maxi in tons of space in the box. Maxi takes to much time on the ball, the defense recovers, so he is forced to pass instead and the chance goes to waste.
82' - Another chance for Valencia on the break. Toni Lato gets to the edge of the box, takes a few touches in an attempt to dummy the defenders before his shot is saved by the keeper. Maxi Gomez recovers the ball and sets up a shot for Racic at the edge of the box but it's hit straight at the keeper.
83' - Yellow card shown to Wass for a late challenge. 
87' - Goal for Getafe. 1-1. Arambarri with a long distance shot at goal that Jaume can only put back into play. Cucho Hernandez reacts first and heads the ball towards goal from a tight angle. Gabriel Paulista tried to scoop it away but couldn't do so successfully.
89' - Yellow card shown to Damian Suarez for a late shove on Racic.
90' - Six minutes added by the referee for stoppages.
90+2' - Final change for Valencia. Jason comes on for Musah
90+4' - Goal for Getafe. 1-2. Angel Rodriguez reacted quickest to Diaby's deflected shot of the post.
90+5' - Penalty awarded to Valencia after Maxi Gomez is taken down by Djene. Yellow card is shown to the player.
90+6' - Second yellow card shown to Damian Suarez for the complaints while VAR reviews. A red card is shown and he leaves the field.
90+9' - Yellow card shown to Jaime Mata for the persistent complaints as the penalty stands.
90+10' - Goal for Valencia! 2-2! Soler calmly slots it past the keeper, sending him the wrong way. Fighting at the net as Valencia try to restart play quiickly.

FULL-TIME

Dramatic ending to a dramatic game. A joy to watch for a neutral no doubt. 11 total cards shown, 9 yellow and 2 red.

Valencia's quest to see out their first half lead was quickly put in jeopardy. With both their center backs on a yellow card from the first half, there was an ominous feeling that a red card was coming, especially given the recent history of these two teams. It would be Correia, however, that would be the one sent off with 2 yellow cards in the span of 10 minutes. This meant Valencia had 34 minutes plus stoppages to play with 10 men and hold their lead. This would test the character and unity of the team.

Valencia coped well given that they were a man down. Wass slotted into Correia's role and Racic, who had come on for Kang In, stepped into Wass' role in midfield. Valencia played with caution, leaving everyone behind the ball with Cheryshev and Maxi Gomez remaining forward. These two would be instrumental to relieve the pressure when the team needed it. They often held the ball up and even began promising counter attacks. Maxi Gomez especially won a few fouls that were essential in relieving pressure. Valencia, meanwhile, continued to pick up one yellow card after the other as they soaked the pressure.

Three minutes from regular time, Jaume spilled the shot from distance and gave Getafe the opening they needed to score. Getafe quickly built on their momentum and got into the box again with Diaby taking a shot which deflected off the post and made its way to Angel Rodriguez who put the ball past the net. 

Just when the game looked over and all Valencia's was set for a heartbreak, a quick restart and delivery into the box resulted in a tackle on Maxi Gomez which was converted by Soler. It was a good moment for the team and Soler himself, as this was a symbolic of his stepping up to take over Parejo's role. 

Full-time stats. 11-16 shots, 5-5 shots on target, 38-62 % possession, 65-77 % pass accuracy.

Next game for Valencia is on Sunday the 8th at Mestalla against Real Madrid.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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

NEWS

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.

PREVIEW

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.

FORM

Elche: WDWL
Valencia: LLWDL

SQUAD

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.


FIRST HALF

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.

HALF-TIME

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.

SECOND HALF

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.

FULL-TIME

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.

Friday, October 2, 2020

La Liga Matchday #5: Valencia CF 0 - 2 Real Betis SAD Match Thread

Let's go over some news as the team prepare for matchday 5.

In the pre-match press conference, Javi Gracia stated that there has been no communication from management about transfer activity but as long as the window is still open he will remain hopeful. It is strange why they feel like they have to be so secretive about these operations, if there are indeed any. It will be interesting to see what happens if the promise is not kept and Gracia doesn't get any player or gets sub-par players. This has happened before with Prandelli who was quick to leave after the promises made to him were broken.

Despite the secrecy from management, the papers continue to speculate over which players will arrive. Additionally, despite the suggestion from Gracia before the previous match that he doesn't think more players will leave, the rumors continue about which player is on their way out next. Gracia did leave it open-ended by stating that anything can happen.

Diakhaby was reported to have interest from clubs in the Premier League and Ligue 1. It seems like an asking price of around 20 million euros was given by Valencia. Meanwhile, the club is listening to offers for Mangala and Cheryshev. There are also several questions surrounding Cillissen and Gameiro's destinations. 

As for signings, it seems this week's most talked about targets for Valencia are Juventus's Rugani, Lyon's Joachim Anderson and Porto's Diogo Leite. Today, there wer ereports that Rugani seems to be on his way to Rennes on loan. Valencia missed out on another target in Borja Mayoral these past few days, as he is set to join Rome.

Alex Carbonell from the quarry has been transferred to second division side Lucerna with Valencia reserving a percentage of a future sale.

Jordi Escobar appears to be on his way to AC Milan.

Alex Centelles has been allowed to leave, with Almeria looking like the most likely destination. It looks like Valencia will also claim a stake in a future transfer free.

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game having secured an unexpected 0-1 away win against Real Sociedad. After a poor display against Huesca in the previous match, many fans thought Real Sociedad would be too much to handle. However, Valencia would hold their own against the home team and kept them at bay. Changes in the second half from Gracia had an instant impact as Gaya set up Maxi's goal with a great cross. Sociedad would grab a goal in the 5th minute of stoppage time, only for VAR to overturn the goal due to handball; a rare benefit for Valencia.

Real Betis's last match didn't go their way as they succumbed to a 3-0 away loss to Getafe. The home team grabbed three goals, all in the first half. The first a scissor kick from Angel Rodriguez, the shot from the edge of the box by Cucurella and third a standard counter-attack finished by Angel Rodriguez for this brace. Betis had around 70% of the possession during that game and still couldn't grab a single goal. A red card in the 83rd minute took away any chance at consolation.

Valencia currently sit 2nd in the league with 7 points. Real Betis are 7th with 6 points.

FORM

Valencia: WDLW
Real Betis: LLWW

SQUAD

The big news for this game, is the return of Carlos Soler to the selection. He has been out for a while, recovering from COVID. He can offer something different to the Valencia midfield if he is played there. It still remains to be seen what position he will occupy under Gracia.

Injury list: Paulista, Mangala, Cheryshev


FIRST HALF

1' - Yellow card shown to Marc Bartra for a heavy challenge from behind on Maxi Gomez
8' - Guedes puts the ball in the back of the net after a Valencia counterattack but the goal is overturned due to offside. Gameiro had headed the ball over Real Betis's high defensive line to put Gomez through onto goal. He squared the ball for Guedes who had no trouble finishing from that position. 
10' - Real Betis give the ball away in their own half. Gameiro claims possession, sends a pass wide to Guedes who then finds Wass at the edge of the box. Wass gets a shot and hits the target which the keeper spills but no Valencia player is around to take advantage.
12' - Yellow card shown to Guedes for tugging on the shirt of Emerson
19' - Goal for Real Betis. Sergio Canales was set up at the edge of the box after some build-up play for Betis. He takes a touch to set up the shot and it deflects off of Jason and into the back of the net.
22' - Jaume denies Betis from a second goal with a save at point-blank range from Sanabria's header. He had managed to get just ahead of Guillamon to make contact with the cross.
38' - Jaume saves another shot, this time from Fekir, the ball is sent back into play but the defense clears.
40' - Guedes beats his defender on the flank and cuts into an inside position, beating another on the way. He threads the ball through the defense for Maxi Gomez who has a tight angle against him. The shot is hit directly at the keeper who saves easily.
45' - Yellow card shown to Guillamon for tugging on Sanabria's shirt. 

HALF-TIME

Another poor first half to add to the the collection this season. Real Betis were allowed to control the game while Valencia did not look like a team playing at home.

Valencia went down due to a fortunate deflection from Sergio Canales's shot. The build-up play to that goal was more telling though as the entire Valencia defense and midfield's attention was occupied by two Betis players. Despite being surrounded, they managed to get their passes off, eventually finding Canales with some space.

Valencia did not respond after that goal. Betis always looked more likely to score after that. with Jaume being called to make more saves to maintain the scoreline. Musah, Kang In and Alex Blanco were seen warming up soon after the goal which could an indication of half-time changes.

Guedes did set up a decent change when he beat two players and picked out Maxi Gomez, but the angle was too tight to produce a goal. 

Half-time stats. 2-7 shots, 2-3 shots on target, 45-55% possession, 81-84% possession.

SECOND HALF

51' - Tello gets a free run on the left flank chased by Diakhaby. Tello crosses and finds Fekir but he scuffs the shot completely. Valencia are fortunate to not concede there.
53' - Yellow card is shown to Canales for taking down Wass after he got away from him.
55' - Double substitution for Valencia. Jason and Guedes are replaced by Kang In and Alex Blanco.
61' - Fekir's free kick takes a deflection as it hits the wall and Jaume has to adjust and stretch to reach it to deny the shot. Great save. Replay shows that it was probably going wide regardless but better safe than sorry.
64' - Tello picks out Canales in the penalty area. Canales takes a powerful shot on goal which Jaume pushes over the crossbar. Increasing pressure on the Valencia goal and a response is still lacking.
74' - Goal for Betis. 0-2. Joaquin sprinted from midfield and through several Valencia players on the way. With all the attention drawn on him, he lays off the ball to Tello in total space. He takes the shot on goal and another deflection, this time from Diakhaby, takes the ball past Jaume.
80' - First change for Real Betis. William Carvalho replaces Joaquin.
81' - Valencia with another double change. Soler and Vallejo come on for Kondogbia and Gameiro.
86' - Second change for Betis. Borja Iglesias on, Pablo Sanabria off.
90' - Two minutes of time added by the referee for stoppages. 
90+2' - Final set of changes for Betis. Fekir is replaced by Guardado while Tello is replaced by Juanmi

FULL-TIME

The worst performance of the season so far. Valencia hardly looked like they were going to score while Betis had chance after change. If it wasn't for Jaume, the scoreline would certainly be much worse.

The second goal was embarrassing to conceded. Jooquin single-handedly carried the ball through from midfield to the penalty area and not a single Valencia player could stop him. A player at the final stages of his career showed more determination and hunger than what the Valencia players showed today. 

While both goals for Betis were scored as a result of deflections, the build-up to the goals exposed huge flaws in the Valencia system that allowed the goals to happen.

Jaume was perhaps the only positive to take away from the game as he attempted to keep Valencia in the game as long as possible. 

Full-time stats. 5-17 shots, 2-8 shots on target, 46-54% possession, 80-83% pass accuracy.

The transfer market closes in two days - October 5th. Gracia needs players and it is unknown what his response would be if he is left without any.

International break will begin after this. As such, next game for Valencia is on the 18th of October against rivals Villareal. This should give some time for Gracia to reorganize and prepare.

Monday, September 28, 2020

La Liga Matchday #4: Real Socieded SAD 0 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread

 Let's briefly go over some news as the team travels to play Real Sociedad in matchday 4.

The renewal of Racic's contract is complete. The midfielder's contract is extended to 2024 with a release clause of 150 million euros.

There is 1 week remaining in the summer transfer window, as it closes on October 5th. According to a recent comment by Javi Gracia, he is unaware of any progress on signings. He says that the last time he had a meeting with Anil Murthy was 2 weeks ago. 

With regards to the signing of Capoue from Watford, he had said earlier that just because the player displayed intent of coming to Valencia and submitted a transfer request, does not mean that he will arrive. 

With one week remaining on the transfer window and no communication from management, Gracia is evidently frustrated and rightfully so. It's looking more and more likely that the signings will be made out of desperation in the last moments of the window, if it all. Not even the performance of the last 2 games was enough to communicate any sense of urgency.

PREVIEW

Real Sociedad had a great game over the weekend. They took the confidence they had from holding Real Madrid to a draw in the previous matchday to their away game against Elche and walked out with all three points and a 0-3 scoreline. All goals came in the second half, including one in stoppage time.

Valencia had a tough time against Huesca at Mestalla. The away team made themselves at home and caused all sorts of trouble. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Despite behind on the backfoot, Wass helped Valencia take the lead from a set piece that travelled all the way to back of the net. Huesca peppered away at the goal for the second half, and finally scored, having been denied time after time by Jaume with some clutch saves. 

Real Sociedad currently sit 3rd with 5 points. Valencia are 5th with 4 points.

FORM

Real Sociedad: WDD

Valencia: DLW

SQUAD

The squad is boosted by the return of Cillissen from his injury. He starts on the bench though.

Alex Blanco, Kang In and Musah all make the starting lineup with Vallejo, Guedes and Jason benched.

Wass starts in midfield, leaving Correia with an opportunity at right-back.

Injury list: Paulista, Mangala, Soler, Cheryshev



FIRST HALF

12' - Real Sociedad with a chance at goal. David Silva spreads the ball wide to Barrenetxea who puts in a cross for Isak. The ball is behind the striker and he hits it with the back of his heel but it ends up over the crossbar.
17' - Yellow card shown to Kondogbia for a challenge from behind on Jaunzaj
22' - Kang In takes possession of the ball in the opposition half and gets a quick shot in, claiming the first shot on target in the match. Remiro saves the effort.
27' - Wass with a powerful shot from range that forces a diving save from the keeper. The ball is loose and falls to Correia who waits for it to arrive at his feet. The defender gets in the way and nullifies any danger.
34' - Yellow card shown to Zubimendi for taking down Kondogbia who had taken the loose ball off him and was on the break.
35' - Maxi Gomez strikes the free kick from a long way out. It is a tame effort and the keeper has no trouble saving it.
37' - Januzaj gets his team's first shot on goal with a low powerful drive. Jaume is up to it though.
38' - A chance for Valencia at the other end. Kondogbia with a fantastic diagonal ball to Gaya who pulls it back for Kang In. The youngster takes the shot but in the end the defender gets his body in the way of the shot.
40' - Short break as the referee gets in the way of Elsutondo's powerful shot. It hits him in the head and the medical team is called to tend to him.
45' - Two minutes added by the referee for stoppages
45+2' - Yellow card shown to Maxi Gomez for a late shoulder check on Merino

HALF-TIME

A relatively decent performance, especially for an away game. The team held their own against Real Sociedad, matching their pace. In fact, they had the majority of good chances in the half.

Most of Valencia's shots on target came from long-range shots. It seems like the players have been given the greenlight to shoot-on-sight this game. The players did well to hit the target when they did take a shot. 

The combination of Wass and Kondogbia in midfield brought a lot of control and prevented David Silva from getting the space he wants to pick out a dangerous pass. What the duo brought in stability though, they lacked in creativity. It was up to Kang In to provide that this game but he barely had time on the ball in the opening minutes of the game. As the game progressed, he did find more of the ball though.

The team needs to try a more direct route towards goal as these long-distance shots have not been effective so far. It's either been that or crosses from wide positions. There are players on the field and the bench who are capable of breaking down the defense so it might be worthwhile to attempt that instead. 

Half-time stats. 4-7 shots, 1-4 shots on target, 64-36% possession, 84-71% pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

Change at half-time for Real Sociedad. Oyarzabal replaces Barrenetxea.

54' - Real Sociedad are getting a lot more time and space on the ball to do what they want. Kang In gets possessed in midfield, the ball makes its way to Oyarzabal who gets into the penalty area and forces a save out of Jaume with his shot.
59' - Yellow card shown to Daniel Wass for stomping on the foot of David Silva
61' - Yellow card shown to Gaya for taking down Januzaj after he got away from him
62' - Januzaj hits the free kick straight at Jaume punches it back into play.
66' - For changes for Real Sociedad. Portu for David Silva, Willian Jose for Isak and Guevara for Zubimendi and Roberto Alcaide for Januzaj. No changes remain for the home team.
65' - First change in personnel for Valencia. Gameiro replaces Kang In Lee. 
71' - Second change for Valencia. Toni Lato and Jason on, Alex Blanco and Yunus Musah off. Lato takes over the left-back position, while Gaya is pushed a bit further up into midfield. Looks like Musah picked up an injury.
73' - Gorosabel puts in a cross that deflects of a Valencia player and set up Oyarzabel for a shot. He takes it but it deflects again for a corner.
75' - Goal for Valencia! 0-1! Wass picks out Gaya with a diagonal ball to Gaya on the left flank. Gaya puts in a great curling cross for Maxi Gomez to hit into the roof of the net. Instant impact from Javi Gracia's change.
86' - Yellow card shown to Correia for taking down Portu.
90' - Four minutes added by the referee for stoppages.
90+2' - Final change for Valencia. Vallejo replaces Maxi Gomez.
90+4' - Goal for Real Sociedad. 1-1. The delivery from the cross is saved by Jaume and then some pin-ball action ended with Guillamon heading the ball into the roof of his net. 
90+5' - The goal is ruled out for handball! Sociedad's celebrations are cut short as Elustondo handled the ball. Valencia takes the win!

FULL-TIME

Well done. The team did well to not only see out the second half but to grab a winner and the first clean-sheet of the season to boot.

Despite having the bigger share of possession in both halves, Sociedad could not take any points this game. Valencia usually struggles away from home but tonight managed to take all 3 points from a tough team.

The goal can be connected to the changes made by Gracia. Bringing on Lato and pushing Gaya forward, allowed Maxi Gomez to get some much needed service. Wass distributed the ball to Gaya from the opposite flank with a diagonal ball, and Gaya puts in a cross across goal for Maxi Gomez to hit past the keeper. 

The rest of the game was a survival mission to hold out until full-time The defense continued its impressive display all the way to the final minute of additional time. There was a last minute scare as the ball was in the back of the Valencia net. However, there seemed to be a lot of action in the penalty area. Multiple players seemed to get taken down, including Jaume before Guillamon's attempted clearance found its way into the back of the net. The goal was overruled due to a handball that resulted from Jaume's initial save landing on Elustondo's arm. It would've been really painful for the team's effort to get undone in the last minute.

Full-time stats. 11-9 shots, 3-5 shots on target, 66-34% possession, 83-71% pass accuracy.

Gracia has made the most of a limited squad today. The defense today looked a lot better, despite the injuries. Maxi Gomez is showing that he can be a reliable source of goals for Valencia. Gracia has yet to draw out the full potential of the team though. If he can get the most of players like Kang In, Musah, Kang In and Guedes, the team gets elevated to another level.

Valencia temporarily take top spot in the league with 7 points but many teams have yet to play this matchday. 

Next game is on Saturday, October 3rd against Real Betis at Mestalla. Amunt.

Friday, September 25, 2020

La Liga Matchday #3: Valencia CF 1 - 1 SD Huesca Match Thread

 Let's go over some news in the lead-up to matchday 3.

The club has been working on a couple of contract renewals this past week. Esquerdo had his contract extended to 2024 with a 100 million euro release clause attached to it. Racic's contract is currently being negotiated with the goal of extension. 

In terms of transfer activity, Murthy should be travelling to meet with Mendes about signings. 

The club remains focused on securing Capoue from Watford, Gracia's former team. The press reported that Capoue has pushed for an exit from the club with a spokesperson from the club confirming this as the reason why he didn't make the squad list. The obstacle in this deal is the price. Valencia have offered 2 million euros while Watford want closer to 8 million euros. After some insistence from Gracia, Valencia may be willing to increase the amount to secure the deal.

The second most common name discussed in relation to Valencia has been Manchester United keeper Sergio Romero. With the club looking for an outlet for Cillissen, it seems Romero is the most likely replacement, if any. A figure around 6 million euros has been reported as the required fee.

From Portugal, there was a reemergence of news surrounding Leite's transfer to Valencia. Additionally, some outlets reported that Mendes is trying to facilitate a transfer of Jota from Benfica. The player has a minimum release clause of 30 million euros, so this one seems very unlikely.

PREVIEW

Valencia's last matchday saw them lose 2-1 away to Celta Vigo. It was undeniable that the home team outplayed Valencia in the game. A breakdown in defense and midfield set up Celta's first goal. Although Valencia would recover in the second half with a half-chance that was converted by Maxi Gomez, Valencia would soon fall behind again. A free kick was given away at the edge of the penalty area and Iago Aspas hit it perfectly to score. Despite change after change, the team couldn't turn around the scoreline. Celta had a few more efforts that hit the post while Valencia had some penalty claims which were turned down. Most of the discussion from press discussed the unfairness of VAR over the shortcomings of the team.

Huesca suffered their first loss of the season at home against Cadiz, a fellow newly promoted club. Despite having the majority (70%) of possession in the game, they succumbed to a 0-2 loss with goals coming around 10 minutes into the first half, and 10 minutes away from full-time. Negredo scored the first goal for Cadiz.

Valencia are 5th in the current standings with 3 points while Huesca are 12th with a single point.

FORM

Valencia: DW

Huesca: LD

SQUAD

The bad news coming out of the camp this week was that Paulista had picked up a muscle tear that will see him miss the next 2-3 weeks. This is a big blow for the team as he is the most reliable center-back. With Mangala having picking up an injury against Levante, this leaves Diakhaby and Guillamon to cover. The need for a center-back signings grows more with this news.

Despite recovering and training with team, Cheryshev has some minor discomfort so he won't be risked this game. 

Gracia did recover Racic and Gameiro from their injuries, and both are available for selection this game.

Injury list: Cillissen, Mangala, Paulista, Soler, Cheryshev

FIRST HALF

7' - Close call as Okazaki beats Guillamon for the ball and send a header towards goal. The effort is wide.

20' - Very sloppy play from Valencia so far. The team is having a head time stringing together 2-3 passes before losing the ball.

30'  - It's concerning that Valencia is struggling against Huesca for 30 minutes straight with no response. Most of the time is spent in their own half defending. 

37' - Goal for Valencia! 1-0! An expected goal against the run of play from a free kick in a unlikely position. Wass's delivery in the box sails past everyone and takes a bounce, Diakhaby jumps over it and it makes it all the way to the back of the net at the far side of goal. Strange goal to score but Valencia will take it. They needed some luck the way things were going so far. Huesca will be frustrated they went behind in such a way.

45' - Two minutes added by the referee for stoppages.

HALF-TIME

A misleading scoreline given the performance from Valencia. 

Huesca dominated the game in practically all aspects. They had more of the possession and most of the game was played in the Valencia half of the field. Huesca pressured high and hoped that Valencia would crack under all that pressure. They were frustrated in the end as they could not trouble the defense much outside of the first 7 minutes. In fact, they didn't hit the target once.

With Valencia barely managing to to put together a few passes, let alone get forward, it was a surprise for everyone when they took the lead. Wass took a free kick practically from the touch line, something like 35 meters out and manages to score. The intent was a cross of course, but it was smart to aim for the far post as it usually causes trouble for the keeper. 

Gracia has shown in previous games that he can identify problems and address them as the game goes so it will be interesting to see what his approach this game will be. Guedes seems to be playing with a lot of frustration again and appears to be a likely candidate for substitution.

Half-time stats. 1-5 shots, 1-0 shots on target, 46-54 %possession, 76-82% pass accuracy.

SECOND HALF

No changes from either team as they both head back out after the break.

46' - Diakhaby does well to deny Okazaki from getting into the box or crossing.

60' - Jaume with a great save to stop Saoune's shot, It was heading into the top corner but he managed to paw it away.

61' - Another save from Jaume. The cross looked like it would go over the bar but he gets his hand up correctly and tips it over.

62' - That's a third save in a row, this time from a header at point blank range. VAR checks and the ball did not cross the line.

62' - Borja Garcia replaces Juan Carlos for Huesca's first change of the game.

63' - Goal for Huesca. 1-1. This time Jaume could not save the effort as Siovas heads it past him. He needed help from the defense here under mounting pressure. Siovas was allowed a free header at goal. Jaume did get a touch on it but it hit the corner post and went in.

64' - Double substitution for Valencia. Musah and Gameiro come on for Vallejo and Jason.

65' - Yellow card shown to Galan for a heavy challenge.

72' - Okazaki volleys, despite pressure from Wass, the early cross from Pedro Lopez and hits the cross bar. Close call.

75' - Kondogbia tries a shot from range and forces a save from the keeper.

79' - Second set of changes for Huesca. Okazaki and Pedro Munoz are off, Ontiveros and Luisinho on.

84' - Good string of passes from Valencia results in a chance for Gaya but he misses the ball.

85' - Third change for Valencia. Kang In replaces Guedes.

86' - Guillamon with a major blunder as he gives possession away on the edge of his own penalty area. Thankfully, Mosquera rushes his shot and Jaume saves.

87' - Gameiro with a chance on the other end. There is too much power on it though and it sails over the crossbar.

88'- Final set of changes for Huesca. Rafa Mir and Ferreiro are replaced by Escriche and Joaquin Munoz.

90' - Five minutes of time added by the referee for stoppages.

90+4' - Final change for Valencia. Swap in midfield, Esquerdo for Racic

FULL-TIME

Again. Not good enough. The team has not only played out a draw with a newly promoted team but struggled to do just that. 

Having fortunately taken the lead in the first half, this was an opportunity for Valencia to put poor performance past them and build on it in the second. This wasn't the case. Valencia did do slightly better offensively but had big lapses in defense.

The goal from Huesca was coming. Multiple saves by Jaume simply stalled it. It in the end it was all undone with just one corner. There could've been more with chances from Okazaki's volley and Guillamon giving the ball away in a dangerous position. Kondogbia and Gameiro could only give Valencia half-chances.

Overall disappointing and will give Gracia something to think about. These 3 games were an opportunity to build momentum. An opportunity that was taken.

Full-time stats. 5-17 shots, 2-4 shots on goal, 48-52 %possession, 76-82 %possession.

Next game is on Tuesday the 29th away to Real Sociedad. A big step up in quality is needed for that game.

Friday, September 18, 2020

La Liga Matchday #2: Celta de Vigo 2 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread

Valencia finished the last matchday as group leaders and will take that with them in their first away game against Celta Vigo.

Let's briefly go over some news from the Valencia camp. A lot of articles this week have been linking various players to Valencia as transfer targets. The list grows by the day, yet still not a single move has been made. This has been quite frustrating. So much so that it has recently come out that a recent meeting between Javi Gracia and Murthy ended in anger and the latter storming out. The timeline on this is just before the Levante pre-game press conference where Gracia delivered those strong words at management.

The line that was missed in that conference was one where he questions if the team will make signings needed to elevate the quality of the team. This was originally interpreted as a critique of the lack of signings in general but it has become evident that this was a critique in the quality of the signings. 

Reports this week have mentioned that Javi Gracia identified 5 reinforcements for his team after he learned that the club's plan to sell some major players. A lot of this information was available to him before he joined. He was promised that signings will be made and has generally been upset with the absence of any thus far. He wanted a striker, a central defensive midfielder, a central defender and a right-back and a goalkeeper. He gave the clubs two names: Capoue (if Herrera was not available) and Pepe Reina (if Cillissen leaves). The rest he left for the club to decide. 

Javi Gracia watched one player after the other be targeted unsuccessfully and then learned that Murthy had in fact been targeting players of a different profile altogether. The players on the list were either free players or those that could be secured on loan deals without compulsion in purchase. The quality of the players on the list was the most shocking to Gracia as a lot of them are over 30 years old, unproven and in one case from the third division. The statement from the conference was pointing to the fact that Gracia believes the quality in this list is insufficient to elevate Valencia. All of this was reported by Plazadeportiva.

PREVIEW

Valencia come in this game on the back of a surprising 4-2 comeback win in the derby against Levante at Mestalla. The start of the game had Valencia looking like a relegation level team after conceding in the first 30 seconds and giving Levante 2-3 more very dangerous chances in the following minutes. Valencia managed to respond with a set-piece header from Paulista. Levante would take the lead again twice, the first overruled by VAR. Valencia would comeback again, turning an unfavorable 2 v 6 into a goal thanks to the combination of Kang In and Maxi Gomez. Substitute Manu Vallejo would grab 2 goals in the second half, the second of which was in stoppage time, to secure the win.

Celta Vigo played out a very even game away to Eibar in their first matchday. The game ended with a 0-0 scoreline. 

Valencia currently sit top of the league with 3 points while Celta are 9th with 1 point.

SQUAD

News this week also revealed that Rivero was almost loaned to Malaga before the Cillissen's injury but that has been cancelled since it is believed the injury will extend past the transfer window close date. He will be on the bench again to cover for Domenech.

With Mangala being injured last game, Gracia will have to rely on Diakhaby or Guillamon to partner Paulista. Molina is also available if needed. Lato has been recovered from his injury.

In midfield, Soler tore a muscle during training, and will be out for 3-4 weeks. This is unfortunate as the player had just started training again with the team. With Cheryshev also out with a recent injury, Koba Lein is called up from the youth team. Jason has also recovered from his injury and will be available for selection. It was questionable whether Racic would make the squad after some intense wisdom tooth pain.

In offense, Gameiro has recovered but is not yet ready for the game. No changes from the previous game as Alex Blanco covers for his absence if needed.




Bench: Rivero, Guillamon, Lato, Thierry, Centelles, Molina, Koba Lein, Jason, Sobrino, Vallejo, Alex Blanco

FIRST HALF

10' - Several chances for Celta in the opening 10 minutes. Mild efforts but efforts nonetheless.
13' - Goal for Celta Vigo. 1-0. The defense exposed once again. Four players around Nolita and they couldn't stop him. He drives through towards goal and plays a through ball for Iago Aspas who runs around the keeper and pokes it into the net. VAR is checking for offside after the linesman initially overruled it.
14' - Paulista seems to have picked up a knock after that last play. Hopefully he's okay.
15' - The goal stands as Wass had just played him onside. Valencia have to come back from behind for the second game in a row.
20' - Kondogbia with a shot from distance, but it's just wide of goal. Good effort.
24' - Yellow card shown to Tapia for a tackle from behind on Maxi Gomez
34' - Some disagreement between Gaya and Kang In over who should take the free kick. Eventually, Wass gets the ball to Gaya and Kang In walks off in frustration. 
45' - Two minutes added by the referee for stoppages.

HALF-TIME

Disappointing half. Valencia conceded early, not as early as last game, but in similar fashion. The complete collapse of the defense and midfield at the hands of a few opposition players. Why was Nolito allowed to carry the ball that long with 4 Valencia players around him?

When they went down, Valencia did not respond as they did last game. Celta's dominance persisted throughout the half. The only chances from Valencia came from a Kondogbia shot and some crosses that just missed their mark. From these, not a single shot actually hit the target.

Half-time stats. 8-3 shots, 4-0 shots on target, 46-54 % possession, 81-84 % pass accuracy.

Gracia's half-time adjustments changed things last game. Change is needed again. Let's see if he can impact the course of the game again.

SECOND HALF

45' - Double change for Valencia. Guedes and Kang In off, Vallejo and Jason on
46' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1! First shot on target by Maxi Gomez and it's a goal! Kondogbia finds Jason in midfield who does the same for Wass's advanced run. Wass puts in the cross and Maxi strikes it first time and into the net! Great team effort. Maxi refuses to celebrate the goal against his former side.
54' - Yellow card shown to Esquerdo for a strong follow through on the tackle on Nolita. Free kick given away in a dangerous position.
56' - Goal for Celta Vigo. 2-1. Iago Aspas scores directly from the free kick. After spending so much time setting up the way and adding additional players behind it to prevent a shot under the wall, Iago Aspas simply goes for the top corner and scores.
58' - Paulista misjudges the trajectory of the long ball which results in Nolito going clean through on goal, 1v1 against Domenech. Jaume manages to save the shot and the ball is cleared. That could've been much worse
64' - Paulista gets a header on target from a cross, forcing the keeper to save and push it over the crossbar.
65' - First set of changes for Celta. Denis Suarez and Beltran are replaced by Yokuslu and Miguel Perez
71' - Third substitution for Celta. Emre Mor is taken off, and Brais Mendes come on to take his spot.
72' - Gracia with another change for Valencia. Correia replaces Esquerdo. This sees Wass move to midfield and Correia take over at right-back.
79' - Final set of changes for Celta. Murillo and Tapia are replaced by Araujo and Gabriel Veiga Novas
83' - Almost a third goal from the away team as Brais Mendes's shot hits the crossbar.
84' - Final change for Valencia. Sobrino replaces Musah. Miguel hits the Valencia post as soon as play restarts. Celta could be up a few goals now.
87' - Celta temorarily down to 10 men after Aidoo walks off due to a head injury from a clash with Vallejo.
90' - Seven minutes of additional time is signaled by the 4th official.
90+1' - Yellow card shown to Okai for a tackle from behind on Wass.
90+2' - Maxi Gomez takes the resulting free kick and hits it low, managing to force a save from the keeper.

FULL-TIME

A chance to build momentum is not taken by Valencia. Celta take all three points and give Gracia quite a bit to think about.

The frailties shown against Levante are now beginning to appear as a persisting problem rather than a one-time thing. If management wasn't convinced that quality signings were needed, hopefully this will wake them up.

Unfortunately, the defense wasn't the only problem this game as the midfield looked very permeable and ineffective both offensively and defensively.

Kang In and Guedes had an especially disappointing game, with those two often expected to be the difference makers in a game. Their head was completely out of the game and it manifested as poor attitude towards the game.

Vallejo and Maxi have shown that they are capable of converting chances when they are provided with the service. Today, there wasn't much service, let alone quality service. The one good chance that Valencia got was converted by Maxi Gomez to cancel out Celta's first half goal.

Esquerdo again involved in the action as he gave away the free kick which Iago Aspas converted to get ahead. He cannot be solely blamed though as the opposing player was given plenty of space and forced a tactical foul from Esquerdo with no backup available.

Full-time stats. 23-9 shots, 6-3 shots on target, 52-48 % possession, 81-81 % pass accuracy.

Next game is Saturday the 26th at Mestalla against Huesca.