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

Friday, October 21, 2022

Valencia - Mallorca match thread

 After a couple of disappointing games Valencia come into this game hoping for a win.

Our opponents Mallorca have had an even worse run. with just 1 point and 1 goal from the last 4 games and that goal against bottom club Elche. Indeed, goals have been a problem for them, with just 7 in the 10 games so far, a poor record only beaten by the bottom 2, Elche and Cadiz. 

For Valencia, only Jaume and Castillejo are unavailable. The second is expected to be back in the next few weeks. In the last game, Foulquier was the main novelty, used as a right midfielder and extra cover on that side, but I'd expect Kluivert to be back instead. Probably a line-up like Mamardashvili, Gaya, Comert, Diakhaby, Thierry; Almeida, Guillamon, Ilaix; Lino, Cavani, Kluivert is most likely with variations in the midfield three possible. In training Gattuso tested a line-up of the above but with Paulista instead of Diakhaby, Yunus instead of Ilaix and Fran Perez instead of Lino. 

I'm going to Mestalla for this game which means updates will be scarce. By chance this is the 3rd time I've seen this fixture. The previous 2 had the same result. In the Emery era, we blew a 2-goal lead to draw 2-2. Last season saw Kang-In sent off on his return to Mestalla, Mallorca get a 2-goal lead before 93rd and 98th minute goals from Guedes and Gaya salvaged a point. I'm hoping for 3rd time lucky, with a Valencia win.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Sevilla - Valencia match thread

As so often happens, Valencia, after getting us excited with a couple of decent results, messes up against a weak relegation candidate. The team really showed their inexperience in the second half and the main message is that, as with recent seasons, there isn't much depth in the squad to turn things round when they're not going right.

Next up is one of several tough games we face in the coming month, Sevilla away. For several seasons, Valencia had the measure of Sevilla, but that changed when Marcelino was fired and since then, results against them have been awful. In the last 3 seasons we have 2 draws and 5 defeats, including a Copa elimination. Last season's game in Seville was eventful for the wrong reasons with Valencia 3-0 down after 22 minutes and two of the goals due to mistakes by Mamardashvili who was dropped for 4 months after the game.


Sevilla have had an awful start to the season which saw them in relegation places and led to the sacking of Lopetegui and his replacement by Jorge Sampaoli who returns for his second spell. Under him, results have improved, a battling draw with Bilbao was followed by another in Dortmund where they were unlucky not to win, before a credible win in Mallorca last game. He's known for his attacking style, using a high defensive line, so this should be an interesting match-up.


For Valencia, both Diakhaby and Marcos Andre are available again after suspensions. Cavani's injury last time doesn't seem too serious and he should be available, however Guillamon and Castillejo remain in doubt.

In other Valencia news, Gaya's contract extension is reported to happen this week. The club also wants to renew Diakhaby but that looks unlikely to happen as he looks to be holding out for a move as a free agent in the summer. Lato has also attracted the interest of Bologna and Ajax.

More on the Sevilla game to follow tomorrow.

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Update: Both Cavani and Guillamon trained with the team, so both may be available, though whether Gattuso risks Hugo is another question. 
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Unfortunately, due to work I'm going to miss most of this game but good news is we're ahead through a Cavani goal.

I only caught the last 30 minutes and wish I hadn't. Second game in a row we've been poor in the 2nd half. Could have stolen it at the end but the Gaya penalty was awful. If it hadn't been for the penalty I'd have been relieved to get the point. I hate Sevilla.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Valencia - Elche match thread

 Valencia come into this game in a very positive frame of mind. A good and deserved win at Osasuna last time out has created a mood of optimism. The team has, for possibly the first time in a few seasons, been fun to watch, with direct attacking football. Numerous news stories have suggested the renewal of Gaya, until 2028, is imminent. Following the renewal of Guillamon, this would be great, leaving a solid base to build a team around.

The opponents are also at a low point. Elche have managed a dismal 2 points from their opening 8 games, conceding 19 goals, the highest in the division, and having the second worst scoring record with just 4 goals scored. Valencia's defenders have actually scored more (5 goals) ! So, on paper, an easy game. The emphasis being on "on paper" because this is a regional derby and Valencia have often messed up such easy games in the past. Valencia's run of fixtures after that is very tough with Mallorca, Betis and Barcelona at home and Sevilla, Sociedad and Villarreal away, so I'm hopeful of a solid win tomorrow.

In team news, Castillejo is still injured. Guillamon sounds doubtful so either Musah or Nico will start instead. There have been news stories this week that Barcelona would like to cut the loan short in January as they're unhappy with his limited playing time, however that isn't something they can do unilaterally under the contract. Diakhaby and Marcos Andre are suspended.

I'll post more closer to the time. 

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No surprises at all in the line-up. With Guillamon doubtful the only question was which of the midfield 4 would not start and it's Ilaix on the bench with Nico returning to the line-up.



In the ideal world, a 2- or 3-goal win would be golden.

HALF-TIME 

A weird slightly frustrating first half. Apart from an early corner, Elche did nothing. The first 25 minutes were all Valencia but somehow we failed to score. Almeida, Gaya and Comert all had decent chances which somehow failed to trouble the keeper too much. A rare Elche attack gained a free kick. Mamardashvilu came out to punch but it was their player (who left on a stretcher) not the ball. He got a hand to the penalty but we found ourselves 1 down. 12 minutes later Gaya was brought down and Cavani comfortably equalised with the penalty for his 1st goal. Deep into injury time he headed home a cross. Hat-trick upcoming? Elche had set out to park the bus so will be interesting to see how they approach next 45.

65 minutes: just rubbish. We've been clumsy in passing and wasteful in possession and are punished. Poor from defence and keeper as Elche equalise. Totally don't understand why Cavani was taken off at half time either

72: Elche ahead? No they're  not. Valencia lazy in possession and the ref whistles for a foul when he should have played advantage. Elche furious and I don't blame them. Terrible refereeing. Awful from Valencia who could lose this.

FINAL: 2-2. Very poor result in a game we dominated for long periods.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Espanyol - Valencia match thread

 After a solid win over Celta 2 weeks ago, Valencia come into this game with the age old question of whether decent home form can be translated into results away. That has often been the club's problem.

Evaluating Gattuso's start so far, with 9 points, it's mixed in relation to former managers. A win today would produce a start bettered in the last 11 seasons only by Nuno and Marcelino's debut seasons. A draw or a defeat would mean the same average start we've seen far too often and leave a struggle for the European places ahead.


Espanyol come into the game in poor form. They needed a 98th minute goal to get a draw at Celta on the opening day, lost at home to Rayo and R. Madrid, got a surprise win at Bilbao before losing at home to Sevilla and away to Sociedad. The pressure is also on them to get results.

For our line-up, Musah remains the main injury doubt so the only questions are 3 positions in the centre. Will Paulista partner Diakhaby or will Comert be preferred? Which 3 of Guillamon, Almeida, Ilaix or Nico will start? Up front will Cavani start or will Marcos Andre or Duro start instead?

Line up and updates will follow.

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And we have the line-up and it's one free of surprises.


Let's hope for the 3 points!

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10 minutes in and Espanyol had the better start, pressing us, but we had the best chances. First Gaya's cross was missed by Cavani and then Lino dribbled well to leave himself one on one, though with a defender on him and from an angle and was saved by the keeper.

12: good work again from Lino. He lays it off to Cavani who shoots over.

16: Uff. Guillamon, who's been shaky so far, gives it away. There's a 3 on 3 break and Mamardashvili has to turn away Braithwaite's shot.

23: Nice! Diakhaby, Almeida and Lino with a great link up but the shot is just wide.

28: We've looked in control but only the Lino chances to show for it.

45: most of our attacks have come down the left. It looks like Lino and Castillejo have switch sides. 57% possession but without too many threats. Cavani has been disappointing. 

46: Kluivert is on for Castillejo who was invisible the first half, though the right side saw almost nothing in passing. Hopefully Castillejo isn't injured as he was good in previous games and earned a player of the month nomination.

47: penalty claim for Espanyol but looks like the ball just missed Thierry's hand.

50 break on for Espanyol but great work by Gaya to cut it out. Guillamon, whose passing has sucked gives it back.

52: GOAL! Through ball finds Ilaix, who puts in a good centre for Cavani who can't get there. Espanyol put it out for a corner, nice header down from Paulista, the keeper gets a hand but it creeps in at the post.

55: FFS. 1-1. It's very close, Joselu is just about level when he gets the ball and he curls it past the defender and keeper off the post.

62: close again from Espanyol, Braithwaite gets and forces a save, the ball pings around and reaches Darder whose bouncing shot goes out off the bar. We're on the back foot now.

67: chances for both teams. Cavani hits a free kick just over, Joselu gets in but Diakhaby and Gaya do enough to put him off and he shoots over.

72: Espanyol have looked the more likely to score, sadly. Triple substitution. Comert on for Paulista, Andre for Cavani, Nico for Almeida.

77: first Valencia chance in a while, centre from Gaya, Kluivert just can't get to it, comes to Andre who blasts over.

80: excellent from Guillamon who makes space and force a great save from their keeper as it was going in.

82: Losing 2-1. Comert did well to cut out a pass, but we're clumsy in midfield possession, give it away, Darder is allowed to run freely and his shot from out of the area goes on. Unusually poor from Mamardsashvili who was wrongfooted.

83: Duro on for Ilaix.

84: Going from bad to worse, Marcos Andre tussles with their defender. Looked like 6 of one half a dozen of the other to me, but he puts his hand on the defender's face and he goes down like he was hit with a baseball bat. Red card for Andre and we're down to 10 men.

91: 10 men each as Braitwaite is sent off for fouling Thierry. 7 minutes left of added time to rescue something.

92: Valencia really pushing. Mamardashvili is even on their half to make a pass. Nico, who gave it away for their 2nd hits a good shot which their keeper fumbles but just managed to push off the line.

95: GOAL! Lucky, but it counts. Valencia put a throw in, it's knocked out. Comert puts the ball into the box looking for a colleague but somehow it sails over the keeper, who totally misses it.


FINAL: 2-2

Somewhere between disappointment and thinking that a draw is a fair result. Valencia looked in control for much of it but gifted a goal to Darder, then had to rely on luck to fluke an equaliser. After 7 games the feeling would still be that we're more exciting to watch but are going to have a similar finish to last time, a mid table irrelevance.  

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamardashvili 5.5: made a few important stops but at fault for their goal.
Gaya 6.5: good game in defence and attack, his crossing was better here.

Diakhaby 6.5: another solid game and his passing continues to improve.
Paulista 6: apart from Espanyol's opener, handled Joselu well. Looked better this game and scored.
Thierry 6: a quiet first half, saw more action in the 2nd and provoked the dismissal of Braithwaite.
Ilaix 5: needs to get forward more and stop going for the foul, but had few mistakes.
Almeida 4: very quiet game where he saw little of the ball
Guillamon 6: After a shaky start when he was gifting possession improved in the 2nd half and was unlucky not to score.
Lino 7: a constant threat to their defenders in the first half, though ran out of steam in the 2nd.
Cavani 3.5: disappointing game and so far he's been rusty it's been a case of Uruguayan up front with nothing happening, same as last season.
Castillejo 2.5: worst game of the season. Totally anonymous and barely touched the ball.

SUBS:
Kluivert 5: lively at times, but lacking experience
Nico 4: guilty of gifting possession for them for their second, nearly made up for it with an equaliser.
Comert 6: has been this season's most improved player. Now looks sound in defence and got a lucky goal.
Andre 2: improvement on Cavani, and the red card was dubious, but you're asking for trouble when you put your hands in someone's face. He really should know better and could have cost us the game.
Duro: not enough time.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Valencia 3-0 Celta match thread

 After a disappointing and poor performance last week, the pressure is on to get something from today against Celta. They're just above us in the standings following a mixed start. They began in disappointing style dropping 2 points to a 98th minute penalty equaliser at home to Espanyol. They also lost 1-4 at home to Real Madrid and by the same scoreline away to Atletico Madrid. However they beat relegation favourites Cadiz 3-0 at home and won 1-0 at Girona. Brais Mendes was a big loss for them in the summer, but they've retained Iago Aspas who has scored 5 goals in 5 games so far. His inexplicable omission from the Spain squad can only be down to personal disputes with Luis Enrique.


For Valencia, Jaume is out for many months and Yunus is an injury doubt for this game. On the plus side, Cavani has been training with the full squad and may make his debut tonight, though I'd expect him to come off the bench rather than start. Mamardashvili, Gaya and Thierry should all start. The biggest question is the defence. Diakhaby has been our best defender for a while now and it remains to be seen if Paulista will get another chance after being awful last week or if Comert will get the nod instead. If Yunus is unavailable then it most likely means a midfield of Guillamon and Nico, which means we may get to see Almeida start for the first time. I'd expect to see Duro or Andre start, flanked by Lino and Castillejo, with Cavani maybe coming on for last 20 minutes.

Our recent form against Celta has been good, 6-2-2 over the last five seasons, including winning both last season. Unfortunately, that counts for very little and if we have any hopes of a top half finish nevermind Europe, this is a must-win game.

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So, Cavani starts to my surprise. Comert plays instead of Paulista and Ilaix instead of Nico. Both changes totally justifiable benching 2 of the worst players from last week. Also good to see Almeida, who has shown brief flashes start instead of injury doubt Yunus.


Let's hope Cavani can find his best form!

26 minutes in and both teams have mostly cancelled each other out. Our best chance has actually come from Diakhaby hitting the post from a corner. We've been trying to get the ball in to Cavani but the accuracy just hasn't been there. Thierry and Moriba both had great bits of skill but nothing resulted. Celta have had a couple of half hearted penalty shouts. Their best chances were when Comert mishit a pass and Guillamon had to commit a tactical foul and take a yellow for the team Guillamon was the villain for the second, giving it away when we were trying to play it out from the back. We've been careless in posession.

HALF-TIME
We improved in the later part of the half and lead 1-0. It was a good goal. Great work from Lino on the left holding off two defenders. He tried to beat the keeper who parried and Castillejo was quickest to follow up and finish well. Didn't see much of Cavani but I think our midfield has handled them well. Moriba has been especially good. Diakhaby, Mamardashvili and Thierry have been solid. A bit disappointed with Gaya's passing. As in previous games we've dominated possession. The main issue is that while we've done better than last week against a high press, we don't look very comfortable. Giving the ball away in risky positions hasn't hurt us so far but it will if we keep doing it. Unfortunately our team still looks unbalanced and inexperienced and seems to have mistakes waiting to happen.

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49: A bit of humour. Lino's shot is blocked by the Celta player with his elbow. It was in a natural position so no foul. But the commentator says "it came off his elbow, it was beside his arm." Yes, that's where elbows usually are found.

54: Insane. Lino is clearly brought down in the box. One of the most obvious penalties you'll see this weekend and he's booked for non-existent simulation. Disgraceful decision. What's the point of VAR?

59: The referee balancing it out for his poor call? Cervi of Celta gets a straight red for a dirty challenge on Thierry.

63: Celta get a rare corner, on the break Moriba is elbowed off the ball. Nothing doing says the ref, who's been poor this half. Moriba has been constantly fouled.

68: Moriba goes off for Nico after a very solid game.

71: Cavani goes off to a round of applause. Castillejo too. Kluivert and Andre are on. Celta get a free kick in a dangerous position and Mamardashvili produces a point blank save to deny them.

74: Good few minutes for us, with Gaya's shot from range forcing a save. But we need to bury this.

79: Chance! A good break, excellent through ball from Andre, but from an angle, Kluivert just can't beat the keeper. He forces a save from a header a minute later too.

82: Marcos Andre! Another Valencia break and this time there's no mistake. With the ball played forward, Gaya is strong to challenge and the ball falls to Andre who beats the keeper with a low drive.

84: Gaya and Comert off for Lato and Paulista.

93: 3-0! Celta look tired, we've been threatening  and after our cross is cut out, Guillamon threads it through to Almeida in the box and he finishes well for his first goal.

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FULL-TIME: 3-0
After an even first 30 minutes Valencia grew into the game and got a deserved win to chase away the disappointment of last week. Win or lose the team is just far more enjoyable to watch this season. There are definitely areas to improve. The passing can be careless, the final ball often is too rushed. Playing out from the back is clearly the game plan but we struggle with presses and the players often make mistakes in these situations. It's hoped they'll improve with experience.

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamaradashvili 7.5: deserved clean sheet, only suffered with a couple of mistakes in distribution
Gaya 5.5: a little disappointed with his crossing and final balls, but he redeemed himself with a key role in the second goal.
Comert 6: much improved this season though can be a bit careless with passing under pressure
Diakhaby 7: enjoying a really good run in the team. Never misplaced a pass and his positioning is always correct.
Thierry 7: Had a good day. Strong in defence and in attack with even a few flashy moments.
Guillamon 6.5: helped the team well with a tactical foul and assist, but can be a bit too carefree on the ball in dangerous positions
Almeida 6.5: his first full game and it was a solid one with good passing and a goal
Ilaix 7.5: probably his best game for us, a commanding presence in midfield 
Lino 7: a flair player, good involvement in 2 of the goals. Can still be too selfish but given his contribution can be forgiven for that today.
Castillejo 6.5: a continual threat on their wing and moved well. Took his goal confidently. He's now the team's top scorer!
Cavani 5: a quiet, almost disappointing debut. He worked hard but had little of the ball to work with.

Nico 5: filled the hole in midfield but wasn't that productive 
Marcos Andre 6.5: good sub appearance, making their defenders work and taking his goal well
Kluivert 6.5: very lively presence. Didn't get a goal but it's coming, needs to maintain this level.
Paulista 5: late sub, didn't have much to do but looked better than last week
Lato 5.5: late sub but covered well 



Saturday, September 10, 2022

Rayo Vallecano 2-1 Valencia match thread

Valencia come into this game after a morale boosting thumping win over Getafe. Prior to that game, many questions had been asked about whether the team could, for all the improved play and possession the previous game, actually get shots on target, let alone score goals and they answered in emphatic fashion. But in the end this is only one game and the team in fact still has 4 points less than Bordalas did after his first four games which included a 4-1 win at Osasuna, so we need to see this sustained across several games before we can get excited.

Rayo's start has been patchy. They started well against the Barcelona teams, getting a draw in Nou Camp before winning at Espanyol, but then they lost at home to Mallorca, with Kangin Lee getting a goal and assist. The last game they lost to a 90th minute winner at Osasuna. It's been an unproductive ground for Valencia to play at, our last win there came in December 2014 in the Copa del Rey while the last league win was in May 2013. 

In team news, Jaume got a serious injury and may miss most of the season. The club is evaluating the option of signing ex-Bilbao keeper Iago Herrerin as cover for the season. As one of the only free agents with La Liga experience, he's the obvious choice. Diakhaby and Marcos Andre have recovered from their injuries and are available, while Paulista and Gaya are back. On the other hand, Ilaix is suspended after his sending off last week. 


Gaya and Paulista come back today replacing Lato and Comert. Cavani is still training and not involved yet.

4 min: And Valencia are behind already. We tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but got dispossessed, we gave away a soft foul in a dangerous position and poor defending meant they scored.

10 min: we've struggled with Rayos' press and have given the ball away too cheaply leading to them having the better chances.

14 min: shambles at the back. We lose the ball easily in midfield, Trejo totally owns Paulista with a turn and has the whole goal to aim at. Mamardashvili parries, Rayo have the chance again but Thierry blocks on the line. So nearly 2 down.

17 min: Alvaro Garcia accelerates, beats Thierry and Paulista (who's had a terrible game so far) but his centre is cut out by Diakhaby.

18 min: Musah gives it away with a sloppy pass in midfield, they're in again all too easy, and Mamardashvili has to put it behind for a corner.

25 min: Valencia have a rare spell of possession, but for the second time, Gaya overhits his cross which sails out for a goal kick.

28 min: cooling break and Valencia need to work something out. Midfield non-existent, getting totally overrun, mentally slow and getting easily dispossessed and rarely able to break out of our first third.

32 min: no change. Rayo still have us pinned back. They get their 5th corner (we've had none) and Mamardashvili punches away.

34 min: the ball bounces over Paulista and Rayo are in. Thierry body charges the Rayo player over in the box. Correctly not a penalty though I've seen ones like that given.

36 min: Valencia's first corner, but Nico flicks well over.

37 min: Valencia move it about well, but yet again Gaya messes up with his cross. They've been awful today.

39 min: Lino needs to learn to pass the ball. He gets it in a good position but dribbles into trouble. Needs to be more of a team player.

40 min another good chance for Rayo. Dangerous free kick and they head just over.

42 min: Castillejo fouled. I nearly forgot he was playing as, like Duro, he's barely had a touch

45 min: better! Valencia's corner is pushed out, we keep possession, Nico's shot is well charged down. It falls to Duro who volleys over though it was probably offside.

HALFTIME: We're lucky to be only one down. There were few positives there with Mamardashvili and Diakhaby saving a couple of dangerous attacks. It's hard to believe we've had 56% possession as they've dominated us.

46: Lino loses it but Thierry is strong to cover.

47: Valencia with the best chance yet, good work by Castillejo in taking out 2 defenders, Musah's cutback gives Nico the whole goal to shoot at but he puts it over.

51: Terrible. Trejo gets past 3 of our players. Nico brings him down. We give away an unnecessary corner and with no danger, Nico slices it into his own net. Why isn't Almeida on instead? 0-2

54: Heart in mouth as Paulista gets owned yet again. Camello with a good chance blocked. We get the corner clear but after the ball spins across our area, luckily no Rayo player there to get a touch but they're pushing for a third.

57 Thierry is brought down in a dangerous position. Commentator thinks we'll be missing Soler. Why? He never hit a useful free kick that I remember. Gaya hits it and at least gets it on target but it's easy for the keeper. Marcos Andre has come on for Nico.

61: Valencia have a couple of corners without creating anything. Lino, as usual, dawdles on the ball, tries to dribble a bit and loses it, there's a dangerous counter on which Mamardashvili has to come way out to clear. Someone with the initials GG needs to have a word with Lino.

64: Good free kick put in which Paulista heads just over. Kluivert and Lato on for Duro and Gaya.

70: We move it up the field well, but Lato overhits his cross with Andre waiting in the centre.

72: Cooling break. It looks like we've switched to a 4-4-2 with Kluivert and Andre up front but nothing much happening. Rayo at least have run out of steam a bit but they should be ok with a 2-goal lead.

76: good interception and pass from Diakhaby finding Andre but a poor first touch lets him down and the danger passes.

78: Mamardashvili saves us again, that's Rayo's 6th shot on target, we've had 1. Almeida on for Guillamon.

82: A good run from Lino but again, instead of centring it, he selfishly takes a shot which the keeper easily covers.

92: DIAKHABY! A good few minutes from Valencia. Almeida centres from a free kick and Diakhaby knocks it in at the back post. Too little, too late.

FULL TIME.
A poor and really flat performance after the high of last week. The team showed their inexperience against a high press in the first half and got overrun. Really a 1-goal loss flatters us. Rayo hadn't won at home in 9 months but beat us so easily. The questions being asked before the previous game return.

PLAYER RATINGS
Mamardashvili 6: saved us on a couple of occasions. Without him it would have been more.
Thierry 4: mostly covered his side well, but also lost possession in some dangerous areas.
Paulista 1: awful return to the side, constantly out of position and failed when needed, hard to believe that Comert looked better.
Diakhaby 5: best of the defence, cut out a number of dangerous balls and grabbed a consolation at the end.
Gaya 3: sluggish return and his crossing was abysmal in this game, ruining some promising chances.
Guillamon 4: overrun with the rest of the midfield, needed more presence this game.
Nico 0: poor in midfield, missed one of our best chances and scored their winner. Can it get any worse?
Musah 4: was full of energy but his passing was off and never got a chance to link up in any meaningful way
Castillejo 3: had a couple of good link ups at the end after an invisible first half.
Lino 3: has ability and is a good dribbler but way too selfish. PASS THE BALL!
Duro 3: forgettable day, though he was starved of any service.

Andre 4: more lively than Duro and posed more of a threat but the final touch wasn't there.
Lato 4: an improvement on Gaya, especially in the passing sense.
Kluivert 4: limited time generated some moments of danger and forced a save from the keeper
Almeida 5: limited time but performed well in the brief period he was on and got a good assist.




Sunday, September 4, 2022

Valencia 5-1 Getafe match thread

 It's half-time in the Mestalla as I write this. In terms of playing style Valencia had started the season much better, unfortunately only 1 win and 2 defeats were the results. A big question before this game was if Valencia could actually create anything, as we'd only created 3 shots on goal from open play. 




The answer so far has been an emphatic yes. Valencia have dominated Getafe, blitzing them with 3 goals in the opening 16 minutes. Besides the good result so far, the team looks to be playing with bags of confidence, stringing passed together and generally looking very with it. Castillejo and Lino, 2 players who've been criticised so far in the season, have played well and contributed with goals. Whatever the result today, it's much better to watch this version of Valencia play.

FULL TIME
The match finished 5-1, a deserved result. Super performances from Lino and Musah and it was good to see the youngsters doing one touch and accurate passing rather than the "kick it upfield and hope" anti-football we saw last season. A few negatives, with both Marcos Andre and Diakhaby going off injured and Musah limping around a bit at the end, though in the case of him and Diakhaby it didn't look so serious. I only counted one Diakhaby mistake from a misplaced pass and he went off to a round of applause. Comert also made a couple of important interceptions. A run of mostly winnable games coming up. Let's hope we can maintain this level

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Updates

 It's been a long time without updates as I've been on holiday or working. So here's a summary.

TRANSFERS OUT

Cheryshev's contract finished at the end of last season. While he had some quality moments, his time here was too inconsistent and marred with injuries. He has yet to find a new club.

All 4 players who'd been on loan (Helder Costa, Moriba, Alderete and Bryan Gil) returned to their parent clubs. The first two were no surprise but with Valencia's frailities at the back, there were calls for us to exercise the 7 million buy option for Alderete. In the end he joined Getafe instead and will probably be back at the Mestalla next game. Bryan Gil continues to be linked with a loan return for a year.

Koba was loaned out to Oviedo. He's shown flashes of potential but needs extended game time and with new additions in our midfield he clearly isn't going to get that this season.

Jesper Cillessen was also moved out, returning to his native Netherlands. Like Cheryshev, his time was us saw him injured and unavailable far too often. With Mamardashvili showing good quality after a shaky start he was not needed. The swap with Neto, which seemed a good idea at the time ultimately turned out to be a disaster for all parties as Neto spent his time at Barcelona on the bench before joining Bournemouth on a free earlier this month. 

Easily the biggest loss of the window was Guedes. While this was expected, it was still frustrating as he had finally started to show consistent form and was constantly a goal threat. The fee was also a bit on the disappointing side at 33 - 35 million plus around 4 million more in add ons. The problem was that PSG were due to get 25% of any fee above 40 million so the clubs settled for below that. It seems at best a sideways move for him, as Wolves are struggling and highly unlikely to make Europe this year.

At the time of writing, Soler's future is up in the air. This is another tough one. The club are offering a 5-season renewal but the problem is that mentally, the player seems to have been elsewhere the last few years. His performances have been inconsistent. Again, the issue is a disappointingly low transfer fee being offered by PSG: 15-17 million. It puts Valencia in a tricky position because if he refuses to renew, then the club may just have to take the cash rather than lose him for free next summer. Plus, Valencia allegedly still owe PSG from the Guedes signing. Great things were expected from Soler when he made his breakthrough. He's been a solid player but not the game changing one we hoped for.

Maxi Gomez looks all but gone with only the fee with Fenerbahce to be negotiated. Marcos Andre also continues to be linked. Another disappointment and would also free up a non-EU spot. Manu Vallejo lastly seems surplus to requirements as no coach has trusted him to play him enough.

TRANSFERS IN
For once, Valencia did most of their business in good time rather than scrambling around in the last hour on 31 August.

Samu Castillejo was the first player to join on a free from Milan. He did well in pre-season but has looked iffy in recent games with his crosses often overhit.

Samuel Lino and Nico have joined us on season loans from Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. The second has only made late sub appearances so far so it's hard to say. Lino has shown flashes of quality but also has shown a greedy streak so the jury is out.

In defence, Cenk Ozkacar joined us on loan from Lyon. He's supposed to have potential but hasn't played yet and with the injuries to Paulista and Diakhaby and Comert error-prone it's a real surprise this position wasn't reinforced more seriously.

Valencia's only money spent on a transfer was 7.5 million on Andre Almeida from Vitoria in Portugal courtesy of his Portuguese agent whose name needs not be spoken. He's highly rated but again hasn't played yet so we have to wait and see if he can be Soler's heir in midfield.

Lastly, Valencia finally made a marquee signing with Edinson Cavani arriving on a free transfer to great expectation from fans. His scoring rate speaks for itself but there are questions of whether he can repeat it after a disappointing final season at Manchester United and also if he can avoid injuries as he will be 36 in February.

Valencia continues to be linked with another attacker with Braithwaite linked from Barcelona or a return of Bryan Gil. There have been various suggestions of a "surprise addition/return" with both Mata's and Otamendi's names mentioned. 

THE GAMES
Valencia started with their customary 1-0 home win over a team that begins with G, beating Granada through a Soler penalty. A tight game at Bilbao followed with a disappointing 1-0 defeat. Last night Valencia put up a good showing against Atletico Madrid but unfortunately lost to a deflected goal after having a Musah wonder strike cancelled out. 

The positive that has to be said is that Valencia are playing much better football than we saw with BORE-dalas ball which had so many of us switching off last season. The team seem capable of stringing multiple passes together, maintaining possession and using a high press.

The negative lies in the following stats.
Against Granada we shared possession but aside from Soler's penalty we only had 1 shot on target the whole game.

At Bilbao we had 63% possession but managed no shots on target. Yep, ZERO!

Last night we went further, having 71% possession but only managing 2 shots on target, while for all their limited possession Atletico managed 7 on target.

So to sum up, 3 games, only 3 shots on target and no goals from open play. This is something that Gattuso urgently needs to fix. Our issue for several seasons has been producing little to nothing for our forwards to work with. It's partly why people like Gameiro and Maxi came and failed. The team needs to create something for Cavani or Duro to work with. As I said lots of times when the topic of replacing Marcelino with Setien came up, possession for its own sake is pointless, we need to create something.

I'll put at least a comment thread up for upcoming games. 


 



Saturday, January 22, 2022

Atletico Madrid 3-2 Valencia

So frustrating. Valencia's poor run against Atleti continues. We haven't beaten them since 2014 and haven't won away to them since the pre-Simeone days of 2011. This was a game we had in our hands. An excellent first half performance, taking advantage of their defence being all over the place. Guedes played a superb cross field ball to Musah who produced an excellent finish for the first. Duro took advantage of defensive confusion to sneak in and finish well.

The logical thing to do in the second half would be to keep the pressure on, try and exploit their poor defending but no, Bordalas chose to camp everyone back near our box and the outcome was predictable after that, despite our 2-goal lead. Poor marking from a corner led to them getting one back and then, with us doing nothing except defend and hoof the ball forward aimlessly rather than try and keep possession, they scored 2 in injury time to revenge us for when we did the same to them earlier in the season. Games like this raise serious question marks about Bordalas. It doesn't help that the team is very thin and is now down to relying on youth players.

Our transfer window as usual has been a farce. We had all of December to identify players to bring in to strengthen the team for this tough run of games, but as always, we're leaving everything to the last minute and far from strengthening are reducing the squad further by moving out players like Piccini, Vallejo, Blanco and probably soon Wass. Unless something changes, it's easy to see this being another write off season around 12th place. Top 7 looks very unlikely now, with only an unlikely Copa win being able to save us.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Valencia - Bilbao match thread

After a couple of defeats it's a crunch game today. The early results raised hopes that perhaps, just maybe, we'd be able to mount a top four challenge this season but the injuries to Gaya and Soler (and not to forget Cheryshev and Thierry who had good starts to the season) exposed the weaknesses and lack of squad depth. Prior to the season none of us seriously expected top four and this week's results confirmed we don't have the players for now to go up against them. However, European places remain a possibility. For those we need to continue what we're doing: beat the other teams. Our rivals for 5th to 7th are probably Villarreal, Sociedad, Betis and Bilbao, not to mention wild cards like Rayo and Mallorca. It's Bilbao we face today and that means a reunion with our old coach Marcelino in front of a Mestalla crowd for the first time since he was idiotically sacked in 2019. 



Bordalas has only made two changes and neither of them is a surprise. After Mamardashvili's recent errors, Cillessen starts for the first time this season. I guess part of the coach would have been tempted to keep faith with Giorgi but if he'd fumbled again it would not have looked good. The other change sees Musah start for the first time instead of Jason. No one will complain about that. It's hard to predict this one, but I'm hoping for a one goal win.

FIRST HALF
Half way through the first period. We've looked shaky. Lato has been the biggest problem, with some iffy decisions, but Cillessen so far hasn't done himself any favours. He hasn't come to claim balls that he should. Due to that, Bilbao look to me the more likely to score. We've had some possession around their area but without creating much. A shot from Musah which was going wide and was saved by the keeper was as good as it got. 

At the break, even overall, though I think we've struggled in several areas. We haven't created clear chances, have been overrun in midfield at times and struggled in defence especially against the pace of Inaki Williams. 0-0 but I'm hoping for a better performance in the second half.

SECOND HALF
Minute 64 and it's got a bit scrappy. Neither side really creating much. It's been a fairly dull stalemate overall, if we're honest.

Minute 66, for goodness' sake another injury. Hugo Duro, who's been one of the better players today pulls up. Marcos Andre and Jesus Vazquez will come on. We hit the post earlier through Wass but it's still Bilbao who look more likely to get a goal here. Hold up, they just have. That's been coming. 0-1. I was just about to type before the goal that our marking has sucked and we saw it there.

70: Unlucky for Marcos Andre who tried to lob the keeper but it's just over.

75: cooling break. We look flat and out of ideas here, restricted to mostly tame shots from distance which Unai Simon has easily dealt with. Without Soler the creativity just isn't there.

81: bad to worse. Second yellow for Maxi after an idiotic pull on a Bilbao player who was nowhere near goal. The first yellow card on him was harsh it has to be said, but risking a pull when you're on a yellow is stupid. Also looks like Musah may have got injured. Our season unravelling bit by bit. Jason on for Musah, Vallejo for Wass.

90: seven minutes added on but right now, it looks like they could add on seventy minutes and we still wouldn't score, we've created next to nothing this game. Crossing from Foulquier and Jason has been very poor.

94: MARCOS ANDRE! I think it was Guillamon who chipped it over, Guedes sent it back across and Andre finished well.

95: Super save from Cillessen. We need to focus here.

FINAL: 1-1 a tough game and in the end given how we fell behind and ended with ten men, a point rescued. Losing three on the trot would have set alarm bells ringing but we saved it. The performance was still uninspiring and hopefully we can do better next game in Cadiz. (I'll be unavailable for that, by the way, so someone else will have to do the write-up.) The main lesson this week is that this team is a work in progress and we're lacking in decent replacements. I hope there'll be patience with the coach and the squad as the Mestalla public return.








Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Sevilla vs Valencia match thread

After a relatively easy run of fixtures, we entered our difficult period this week, falling at the first hurdle with a loss against Real Madrid. Despite the result, the performance was encouraging though soured both by the manner of defeat and a growing injury list. Gaya is expected to be out for 3-4 weeks, Thierry about 3 and Soler 2-3 weeks. 

Today's opponents Sevilla are, of course, the main rivals we need to overcome if we have any dreams of top four. They've had a reasonable enough start: a 3-0 home win over Rayo, win at Getafe and draws at Sociedad and Elche. All in all, I'm hoping for a win, but would gladly settle for a draw from this game.

 

Bordalas, as ever, has gone with continuity in the line up. The major surprise is Jason starting on the right instead of Musah, who had a good game last time. Helder Costa or Racic starting in the middle with Wass on the right were other options. Obviously, given Jason's underwhelming performances previously, this is a bit of a mystifying decision, so we can only hope the coach has got it right.

---------
I think I'll leave you all to comment on this. 15 minutes in and this is one of the worst performances in a while. The first goal was bad enough: awful decision by Wass trying an over-ambitious crossfield ball which got easily intercepted. The midfield and defence were all over the place and Mamardashvili stood there like a statue as it went in. The second was much worse, what on earth was the goalkeeper doing, just standing there as it bounced over his head. As I was typing this, Sevilla scored a third, didn't see it due to writing this. The goal on twitter also looks bad, Mamardashvili getting lobbed like an amateur. His honeymoon and Bordalas' is finished. Over and out from me.

------------
Post-match comments: switched off just before the third goal, so based on quick highlights and match reports: awful from Mamardashvili, Alderete, Lato, Jason (no surprise) and Maxi. Hugo Guillamon also said to be weak. Wass dubious. Well taken goal for the second game in a row by Hugo Duro. Effort at least from Guedes. 

After the positive emotions generated by the decent start, we've come crashing down to reality in the last 2 games. The lesson, as we saw last season, is that while our main XI is good enough, there's a significant drop in quality once we get to replacements, leaving us very vulnerable to injuries. I wouldn't give up on Mamardashvili, who does show promise, but I think a spell gaining experience with the reserves would quicken his adaptation to Spain. Right now he looks like he's been promoted too quickly. It's hard to see how Bordalas can persist with him now after mistakes 3 games in a row and with Cillessen available. Some of the selections also look dubious: Jason? What does Maxi have to do to be benched? Why don't players like Musah, Racic and Vallejo feature more? A reality check this week for sure.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Valencia versus Real Madrid and Barcelona in La Liga since year 2000

 It's that time again. Valencia, after an impressive start to the season, face Real Madrid, who have had a similarly good start. If history tells us anything it's that these games are filled with drama. A dubious injury time penalty in early 2004 when both Valencia and RM were battling for the title denied us 3 points at the Bernabeu. Another controversial penalty was awarded against Abdennour at home to Barca to steal a morale boosting point at one of our lowest ebbs.

Valencia's performances against the El Clasico two usually seem to defy form and logic. In one of our better periods, when we were constantly finishing third, we lost all 4 games each season. Conversely, in one of the worst seasons this century, 2015-16, Neville's Valencia was a last minute Negredo miss away from beating Real Madrid, while Neville's successor, the otherwise inept Pako Ayestaran, beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp. (Ayestaran's account of how he did it is worth a watch.) So here's the table since the year 2000 in La Liga

From that, it's clear that our best years against the big two were the first half of the 2000s. The 2005-6 season remains the only one where we were unbeaten by both of them, taking 8 points from 12. That along with the title winning seasons were the only ones when we managed to beat both the big two in the same season.

Our worst period was 2009-2013, much of that coinciding with Unai Emery's tenure. In fact Emery's poor record against the big two, despite having a squad which contained peak-level Villa, Silva and Mata, was one of the main reasons why the Mestalla faithful turned against him. 

Our overall record against both is similar: 36 points from a possible 126 against Barcelona and 37 points against Real Madrid, but this is markedly different depending on where we play. Against Barcelona, weirdly we've done as well in the Nou Camp as we do in Mestalla: 4-6-11 is our record in both stadiums. Against La Real however, there's a marked difference. In Mestalla we're 7-4-10 while in Madrid it's been mostly barren ground: 2-6-13. We've also done quite a bit better against Madrid in recent times: our home record is 4-2-1 over the last seven seasons. On the other hand, our last win in the Bernabeu was in 2007-8.

Sunday will continue the journey and the hope is we can continue our recent home streak against them.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Super league will destroy football

 I'm sure everyone will have seen the plans for a European Super League, with 15 fixed members: three to be decided, 6 English, the Milans, Juventus and the Spanish Big Three. That latter group would once have included Valencia but it's a sign of how far we've fallen in the last decade that no one questions us being absent and no one even has to ask who the big three in Spain are.


The plan is to have those 15, plus 5 extra teams each year. Whether they would qualify or just be invited is unclear. The clubs involved don't intend this to be a breakaway: they plan to participate in this as well as playing in the national leagues, gambling on the fact that the national leagues won't kick them out. They also promise a solidarity fund greater than there is at the minute for other clubs. 

The Super League idea has been around for ages. "Footballer of the year" a game I played on the MSX computer back in the 1980s included a European Super League, as did later games and it was the idea of it that caused UEFA to bring a group stage into the European Cup in the 1990s.  Ultimately, their attempts at concessions to big clubs have clearly failed. Pandering to greed has just produced more greed.

All the 15 clubs participating would get 350 million euro a year just for taking part, with prize money of around 50 million. That compares to the current situation where a team winning the English Premier and Champions league double would get 230 million. Needless to say, for clubs like Arsenal and Milan, who have frequently been absent, it's a considerable windfall.

Friday, March 5, 2021

La Liga Matchday #26: Valencia CF 2 - 1 Villareal CF Match Thread

 PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game off a heavy 3-0 away defeat to Getafe. The team failed to show up or put in the required effort. That, paired with an early red card in the second half, made for an embarrassing game altogether.

Villareal have been poor recently as well, having not won a game in La Liga since early January. Their previous game was 0-2 home loss to Atletico Madrid. Despite dominating the game's possession and overall shots, they weren't effective in front of goal. An own goal in the first half and a great strike from Joao Felix in the second made the difference.

Valencia are currently 14th with 27 points from 25 games while Villareal are 7th with 37 points from just as many games.

SQUAD

Diakhaby will miss this game due to the red card he picked up last game. This should provide an opportunity for Guillamon or Ferro to start. 

Cheryshev and Piccini are the only two players left on the injury list.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

La Liga Matchday #25: Getafe CF 3 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread

NEWS

Alex Blanco's contract has been renewed to 2022. There was a clause in the player's contract that will automatically trigger the renewal should he play 10 games this season and that has been fulfilled in the Copa del Rey game against Sevilla. 

The club is trying to secure Kang In's contract renewal with new interest coming from other clubs. These are rumored to be Juventus and Real Madrid.

Pablo Longoria has been hired as the President of Olympique Marseille.

There were also rumors that Valencia maintain their interest in Pepe Bordal├ís as coach. With Getafe also struggling for form, his position has been questioned and Valencia is reportedly keeping an eye on the situation. Apparently, the choice made in the summer was between him and Javi Gracia, and management settled on the latter since he was without a team and could be lured easier.

PREVIEW

Getafe come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat away to Real Betis. The home team dominated the possession and chances but Getafe managed to hold on up until the 84th minute when they conceded a penalty. 

Valencia arrive with a 2-0 home against Celta Vigo in their previous fixture. While Valencia played better than in their past few games, the game was at a deadlock until injury time where Valencia scored twice. The goals came from Manu Vallejo and Gamerio, both introduced as second half substitutions, with set ups from Kang In and Correia who put in some good work this game.

Getafe are currently 15th in the standings with 24 points from 24 games. Valencia are 12th with 27 points from the same number of games.

FORM (all competitions)

Getafe: LLLLD

Valencia: WLDWL

SQUAD

Diakhaby has recovered and expected to be in the squad that travels to Getafe.

Javi Gracia has served his suspension and will return to the sidelines.

Piccini requires many weeks to get back to match fitness according to Javi Gracia and will likely not appear until close to the end of the season.

Cheryshev still deals with some discomfort and will not be part of this week's squad.


FIRST HALF

6' - Yellow card shown to Theirry Correia for a tactical foul on Mauro Arambarri to stop the counter-attack
13' - Yellow card shown to Enes Unal for an arm to the face of Gaya
28' - Yellow card shown to Djene for an off-the-ball challenge on Kang In before the corner
31' - Yellow card shown to Cabaco for a challenge on Kang In Lee who had robbed him off the ball in a dangerous position
39' - Goal for Getafe. 1-0. Mauro Arambarri gathers the attempted clearance from Correia, takes on touch and shoots from quite a long way out. Cillissen gets his fingertips to it but cannot keep it out.
45' - Three minutes added by the referee for stoppages

HALF-TIME

Half-time stats. 8-2 shots, 1-0 shots on target, 42-58% possession, 54-64% pass accuracy.

Rough half for both teams with 4 yellow cards already. Both teams struggled for chances and the difference is a long range strike that not much could be done about.

That being said, Getafe picked up a lot of yellow cards and two of them went to their central defenders. Under more pressure, this will force them to back away from challenges or get a red card which Valencia can capitalize on.

SECOND HALF

51' - Red card shown to Diakhaby for pulling down Maksimovic as the last man, thereby denying a goal-scoring opportunity. First game back and a costly error.
53' - First change for Valencia. Guillamon replaces Musah to reinforce the defense after the card.
54' - Unal with a 1 v 1 chance against Cillissen but he cannot score. That was very fortunate.
55' - Goal for Getafe. 2-0. Jaime Mata finishes a good pass from Unal
57' - Yellow card shown to Cucurella for a rough challenge on Paulista
64' - First change for Getafe. Chakla replaces Cabaco
68' _Second change for Valencia. Gameiro on, Racic off
73' - Second change for Getafe. Cucho Hernandez on, Enes Unal off 
75' - Red card shown to Paulista but overturned by VAR. That would've been really bad.
76' - Yellow card shown to Nyom for a challenge on Gaya. Yellow card shown to Gaya for dissent against the referee after that challenge.
81' - Double substitution for Valencia. Cutrone and Oliva on for Maxi Gomez and Carlos Soler
85' - Triple substitution for Getafe. Alena, Kubo, and Timor come on for Nyom, Mata and Arambarri
86' - Goal for Getafe. 3-0. Cucho Hernandez with a cross that was volleyed by Alena past Cillissen.
89' - Cillissen with good save to deny a fourth goal.
90' - Five minutes added by the referee for stoppages.
90+5' - Gullamon with a brilliant through ball to break down the defense. Gameiro pull its back for Kang In but he takes too many touches and the chances fizzles out.

FULL-TIME

Full-time stats. 15-5 shots, 4-0 shots on target, 42-58% possession, 58-68% pass accuracy.

Another embarrassing game. A defeat to rivals that allows them to go ahead in the league standings. And yet again, not a single shot on target for Valencia. The team failed to build on the positive result of the previous game.

The result of the first half was rescuable especially with the vulnerable central defenders of Getafe (both on yellow cards). However, it would be Valencia who would pick up the red card first, taking away any chance at a comeback and would widen the gap between teams. Getafe would grab a second goal soon after. The situation was comparable to a challenge by Getafe in the first half and they walked away with only a yellow card.

Valencia almost picked up a second red card after Paulista's challenge but the situation was rescued by VAR which overturned the decision. 

Getafe kept up the pressure sensing weakness and grabbed a third, and almost a fourth. Valencia almost produced a goal in the final minute but there was no finish.

Paulista in the post-match interview was in tears as he reflected on the current situation of the team. Where do they go from here?

Next match is on Friday March 5 against Villareal at Mestalla.

Friday, February 19, 2021

La Liga Matchday #24: Valencia CF 2 - 0 Celta Vigo Match Thread

NEWS

Following the last game, the club captains, ambassador and president to discuss the result and the state of the team. As usual, the statement that came from this meeting is that the team is united and focused on changing the result moving forward. 

Speaking of the president, Murthy has flown to Singapore a few days ago, with the intention of staying 2 weeks (due to COVID-related restrictions). While he is staying there, Joey Lim is responsible for local duties. This trip has sparked quite a few speculations, with some saying the Murthy might not come back, while others compare this to the time leading up the sacking of Celades when Murthy also travelled back to Singapore. It remains to be seen what comes of it.

PREVIEW

Valencia come into this game on the back of an embarrassing 2-0 away defeat to Real Madrid. The team failed to show up and the home team managed to win comfortable while barely breaking a sweat. Both goals came in the first half, the first a strike from distance from Benzema, while the other was a team effort that was passed into the net by Kroos. Valencia was never in the contest.

Celta Vigo played out a 3-1 home win against Elche in their last fixture. Celta scored 2 goals just on the brink of half-time which gave them a comfortable lead going into the second half. Elche pulled one back early in the second half but Celta Vigo restored their 2 goal margin. Santi Mina scored 2 of the goals for Celta.

Valencia are 13th in the league standings with 24 points from 23 games. Celta Vigo are 9th with 29 points from 23 games.

FORM (all competitions)

Valencia: LDWLL
Celta Vigo: WDDDL

SQUAD

Cillissen and Mangala are in the final stages of recovery and could be selected depending on readiness. Guillamon returns having served his suspension last game while Gracia still has a game left to finish his suspension. Cheryshev and Diakhaby are still in recovery and are expected to be back as soon as next game. 

It is reported that Gracia has practiced with the same 11 as last game but with Musah instead of Guedes and Kang In instead of Vallejo.


FIRST HALF

12' - Yellow card shown to Nolito for a late challenge on Kang In
22' - Goal for Valencia is overturned for offside. It was good team play. Correia was lightning quick on the break with lots of space ahead. He takes an early cross to find Maxi Gomez who passes on the volley to Alex Blanco but the ball goes through to Wass who strikes it first time at goal and beats the keeper. Wass was returning from offside position though.
29' - Murillo gives possession away with a poor pass from the back which Wass intercepts. Wass carries the ball forward and threads a nice pass to Kang In Lee who had made a run into the box. Tapia just manages to get a touch on it to take it away from Kang In and into the arms of the keeper.
31' - Yellow card shown to Santi Mina for a foul on Correia
44' - Well-timed run by Kang In into the box. Correia spots him and plays a decent through-ball. The keeper comes off his line and races to the ball, getting there just before Kang In.
45' - Three minutes added by the referee for stoppages
45+1' - Good play by Valencia on the break following a Celta Vigo free kick. Unfortunately, Alex Blanco overhits the pass to Kang In and allows the defense to get into place. Kang In keeps going and finds Wass on the opposite flank. Wass passes to Racic who picks out a through ball to find Gaya. Gaya puts in the cross but nobody is there to attack the ball.

HALF-TIME

Half-time stats: 3-1 shots, 0-0 shot on target, 52-48% possession, 77-72% pass accuracy

The team showed up in the first half, contrary to the last game. There were a few spells that looked good at various points in the half. The final product is still lacking though. The team put together some great passing sequences on the counter but the danger often fizzles out in the final third.

Both teams gave up the ball very frequently which means less time on the ball for both teams and a comedy of errors to give the ball away back and forth.

Great work ethic from Kang In in the first half. He seems intent on capitalizing on this opportunity and making a mark. Cannot say the same for many other players.

SECOND HALF

53' - Yellow card shown to Tapia for a foul on Wass to stop the counterattack
55' - Yellow card shown to Kang In Lee for kicking the ball away after a foul.
61' - Kang In with a through ball to Maxi Gomez setting him for a run into the box. The keeper comes out and Maxi gets to the ball first and goes to ground. VAR is checking if the keeper made contact with him.
62' - Yellow card shown to Gaya for dissent against the referee. He feels it should be a foul.
63' - VAR rules that there was contact. Red card shown to Ruben Blanco for denying a goal scoring opportunity with a foul. Free kick given at a good position just outside the box.
66' - First change for Celta Vigo, goalkeeper Ivan Villar replaces Facundo Ferreyra
71' - First substitution for Valencia. Kevin Gameiro replaces Alex Blanco
75' - Gaya breaks down the opposition defense with a through ball to Kang In who takes a turn and then plays the ball across goal. Villar gets a touch to the ball and Gameiro attacks at the far post but cannot make contact.
80' - Second substitution for Valencia. Racic off, Vallejo on
81' - Second substitution for Celta, Aidoo replaces the injured Solari
82' - Throw-in from Celta finds Santi Mina on the left edge of the box after a touch from Paulista. Mina attempts to go through Guillamon and Soler. In the process, Soler pokes the ball towards Nolito right in front of goal but thankfully Cillissen is quick off his line to smother the ball.
89' - Final change for Celta. Nolito off, Beltran on
90' - Seven minutes added by the referee for stoppages
90+3' - Goal for Valencia! 1-0! Vallejo starts the play exchanging passes with Gaya just outside the box. He receives the ball back, passes to Kang In and continues his run forward. Kang In threads the ball through the defense to find Vallejo again who pokes the ball past the incoming keeper and into the goal at the far post.
90+6' - Final change for Valencia. Kang In Lee off, Ferro on
90+7' - Goal for Valencia! 2-0! Correia receives the ball wide and cuts inside past one defender and then another before playing the ball behind the defense to find Gameiro who strikes the ball into the roof of the net.

FULL TIME

Full-time stats. 7-4 shots, 57-43% possession, 82-76% pass accuracy

A valuable 3 points, a clean sheet and a much needed win for Valencia. It took a red card and 7 minutes of extra-time to do it but the result is what will matter at the end of the day.

Gracia's substitutes were the difference makers alongside Kang In who showed great work ethic since the start of the match. Correia also deserves credit for pushing on for a second rather than playing it safe.

Next game for Valencia is on Saturday the 27th away to Getafe.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

La Liga Matchday #23: Real Madrid CF 2 - 0 Valencia CF Match Thread

PREVIEW

Real Madrid's previous fixture was midweek at home against Getafe - a game that they won 2-0. The game was fairly one-sided with Real Madrid dominating possession and the vast majority of chances. A header from Benzema to meet a cross from the right wing put the home team in front, before Mendy extended their lead with a tap in from a cross from the opposite flank.

Valencia played out a 1-1 draw at home against Athletic Bilbao in their last fixture. An own goal by Hugo Guillamon put the away team in front just before half-time. Valencia equalized in the second half through a corner set piece delivered by Soler and converted by Paulista.

Real Madrid are currently 3rd with 46 points from 22 games. Valencia are 12th with 24 points from 22 games.

FORM (all competitions)

Real Madrid: WWLWL

Valencia: DWLLD

SQUAD

Javi Gracia and Guillamon will both serve their suspensions this game, having delayed it for the past two games. This will be the first of two games for Gracia and the only one for Guillamon. With Diakhaby and Mangala injured, Ferro will certainly start this game.


FIRST HALF

12' - Goal for Real Madrid. 1-0. Benzema with an effort from just outside that box that travelled across and into the goal at the far post. 
27' - Yellow card shown to Guedes for a tackle from behind on Varane
28' - First change for Real Madrid. Vazquez replaces the injured Carvajal.
30' - Modrid receives the ball wide on the right and plays a first-time cross to Benzema who attempts to flick the ball past Jaume. Paulista throws his who body in front of the shot to deny the goal.
40'- Modric gets free from Soler at the edge of the penalty area with a couple of touches before firing at goal. Jaume punches the ball back into play towards Modric who wins a corner after his shot deflects off of Paulista.
42' - Goal for Real Madrid. 2-0. No urgency from Valencia as Madrid pass the ball around. Kroos to Asensio to Modric while Gaya does little to pressure.  A pull-back to Vazquez and another to Toni Kroos who hits it low and into the net at the near post.
44' - Yellow card shown to Racic for a rough challenge on Vinicius
45' - One minute added by the referee for stoppages

HALF-TIME

Half-time stats. 10-0 shots, 5-0 shots on target, 67-33% possession, 91-79% pass accuracy.

The stats speak for themselves. This was very poor from Valencia. Despite the urgency of the situation the team is in with the standings, and the quality of the team in front of the them, they have failed to step up. 

Real Madrid got away with playing at a very tame pace without challenge or punishment. Even still, they managed to get 2 goals doing so. Valencia meanwhile, not a single shot, let alone any on target. 

Gracia needs to wake the team up in half-time or else this could get really bad in the second half.

SECOND HALF

45' - Double substitution for Valencia. Musah and Gameiro on, Guedes and Vallejo off
46' - Yellow card shown to Theirry Correia for a challenge on Vinicius
53' - Maxi Gomez gets the first shot on target from a long way out and forces a save out of Courtois
61' - Goal over-ruled. Real Madrid put the ball in the back of the net but he was offside when he received the ball.
64' - Double substitution for Valencia. Kang In and Oliva replace Wass and Soler.
71' - Second change for Real Madrid. Asensio is taken off, Sergio Arribas takes his place.
78' - Double change for Real Madrid. Benzema and Modric are replaced by Mariano and Isco
82' - Final change for Valencia. Cutrone on, Maxi Gomez off.
90' - Three minutes added by the referee for stoppages.

FULL-TIME

Full-time stats. 16-4 shots, 7-1 shots on target, 61-39% possession, 91-84% pass accuracy.

Valencia barely managed to contain the damage to the 2 goals conceded in the first half. They also managed to get a shot on target and test Curtois. Other than that, it was more of the same lethargic team that showed up in the first half. 

The commentary on beIN sports was saying how embarrassing the first half was for Valencia and that they would struggle to find another game that was this easy for one team this season as the one they've seen today. That about sums it up.

Next game for Valencia is on the 20th at home against Celta Vigo.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

La Liga Matchday #22: Athletic Bilbao 1 - 1 Valencia CF Match Thread

PREVIEW

Athletic Bilbao come into this game having played the Copa del Rey Quarter Final away against Real Betis mid-week. A late goal from Juanmi in the 84 minute put the home team in front, before Raul Garcia rescued his side in the 4th minute of injury time to extend the game into extra-time. After two scoreless halves of extra time, Athletic beat Betis 1-4 in the shootout to qualify to the semi-finals.

Valencia had no game mid-week and their most recent game was a narrow 1-0 win at home against Elche. The header from Daniel Wass from Guedes's cross would be the only thing separating the two teams for the game.

Athletic Bilbao are 11th in the league with 24 points from 20 games while Valencia are currently 14th with 23 points from 21 games

FORM (all competitions)

Athletic Bilbao: WLWWW

Valencia: WLLDW

SQUAD

Cillissen is currently training and should be available within 1-2 weeks.

Diakhaby, Mangala, Cheryshev are out with injuries. Gameiro hasn't been cleared to return following the positive COVID test.

The three new signings: Ferro, Oliva and Cutrone have all passed the PCR tests for COVID and are available for selection. It remains to be seen if any will start/ play a role in the game. It has been reported that Gracia mostly practiced using the same 11 that played against Elche.


FIRST HALF

15' - Vallejo drives the ball forward from midfield on the counter-attack and successfully finds Guedes in a wide position. Guedes puts in a low cross to the near post which is flicked back by Vallejo to Maxi Gomez. Unfortunately, he gets it tangled between his legs and cannot take a shot.
18' -  Wass finds the overlapping run of Correia. He delivers the cross to the center of the box and Maxi attempts to strike it on the volley. The shot is wide.
28' - Racic plays a long diagonal ball aimed at Correia. Gomez heads it to help it reach its destination before getting into the box himself to meet the cross and head it. Again, it's wide of the target.
43' - Goal for Athletic Bilbao. Guillamon puts the ball past his own keeper in an attempt to deny the cross from reaching Inaki Williams at the far post.

HALF-TIME

Half-time stats. 1-6 shots, 0-1 shots on target, 47-53% possession, 78-81% pass accuracy

Quite an unfortunate end to a decent half. The own goal from Guillamon was against the run of play and the only chance at goal by Bilbao for the entire half.

Athletic dominated the first part of the half, pressing really aggressively and forcing Valencia to play rushed passes or long clearances that cost them possession. They got forward many times but had difficulties delivering the final ball, partly due interventions from the Valencia defense but also due to key absences in their team.

Valencia got the majority of chances at goal with well executed counter-attacks. Unfortunately, the finishing left a lot to be desired as none of the shots hit their mark. Valencia was looking like they had figured out how to break down the opposition defense. They drew out their midfielders and found spaces behind them. At the end of a counter-attack, the Bilbao keeper played the ball out quickly starting one for his own team and the final ball was put past Jaume by Guillamon. Guillamon simply had to get a touch there as Williams was lurking behind him and would've surely scored. The touch wasn't the right one though and gave the home team the advantage going into half-time.

SECOND HALF

50' - Williams muscles Correia away and delivers a cross into the box, picking out Sancet in space. He takes a touch and shoots at goal but Jaume manages to save and get back up quickly to claw the ball away from danger. Great work from Jaume.
51' - Yellow card shown to Berenguer for a rough challenge on Guedes
52' - Wass gets a header on Gaya's cross but it's just over the cross-bar. Good, quick response.
64' - Double change for Valencia. Wass and Vallejo are replaced by Musah and Cutrone
65' - Goal for Valencia! 1-1! Gabriel Paulista loses his defender and scores with a header from Soler's corner
67' - Musah with a brilliant individual run from his own half, all the way to the opposing box, leaving defenders in his wake. He opts to go for the shot himself at the end but cannot hit the target.
68' - Substitution for Athletic Bilbao. Unai Lopez replaces Sanset
69' - Double change for Athletic Bilbao. Vesga and de Marcos on, Morcillo and Vencedor off.
73' - Yellow card shown to Inigo Martinez for tripping up Musah
74' - Double change for Athletic Bilbao. Ander Capa and Balenziaga are replaced by Lekue and Berchiche
78' - Jaume with a quick ball out to begin a counter-attack, finding Cutrone in an advanced position. Cutrone picks out Gomez in space and with defenders scrambling to get Gomez, Cutrone gets the ball back. He takes a shot but cannot hit score as the ball is cleared off-the-line.
79' - Yellow card shown to Soler for dragging down Unai Lopez to deny the counter-attack.
86' - Musah and Correia team up on the right flank before the latter puts in a cross into the box. Guedes gets a shot but its deflected off a defender. Racic strikes the loose ball on the volley but it flies over the crossbar.
89' - Final change for Valencia. Alex Blanco in, Goncalo Guedes off.
90' - Three minutes added by the referee for stoppages

FULL-TIME

Full-time stats. 11-15 shots, 2-2 shots on target, 51-49% possession, 76-79% pass accuracy.

Valencia will walk out of this game surely being the more disappointed of the two teams. With the amount of chances they had against an exhausted opposition, it is unfortunate that they couldn't come out with all 3 points. The three points would've put Valencia over Athletic Bilbao in the league standings, although the latter still have a game in hand.

Valencia's next game is on Sunday February 14th away from home against Real Madrid.