Showing posts with label champions league. Show all posts
Showing posts with label champions league. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Valencia - Manchester United match thread

Valencia's centenary year was supposed to be a triumphant one, with the team consolidating its place in the Spanish and European elite. Instead, as we all know, it's been a massive disappointment, with a series of limp attacking performances making the team simply hard to watch. I usually stick with the games until half time and then, in frustration, leave the commentary on in the background while I go and do something else and I know I'm not alone. It's only reasonable defence and the fact that traditional rivals like Sociedad, Villarreal and Bilbao have also been doing poorly that has saved us from being in a relegation position. Compared to results achieved in the same games last season we have dropped a point against R.Madrid, 2 against Betis, Celta, Leganes and Sevilla and 3 against Espanyol and Girona, while gaining 1 versus Villarreal and 3 versus Getafe, so even just achieving the same results as last season in the remaining games would leave us outside top four, which is out now and I seriously doubt we can even make top 7 now. 

Worse, the reasons for it don't seem totally clear which makes solutions hard. The team and manager are the same but nothing seems to work. Various players have seriously dropped off on last year's performance, Kondogbia, who was a titan last season, doesn't even make the line-up any more, and few people care, as he's been worse than Coquelin when on, Guedes doesn't excite and Rodrigo has reverted to the Rodrigo of early seasons with us. Marcelino's tactics seem too rigid, lacking a plan B, but I think most supporters know from hard experience that mid-season managerial changes have rarely helped us, while they've definitely undermined our reputation in the long term. There has also been the Zaza question, but I'm not convinced that things would be better with him still with us. He came to us with patchy form, had a brief purple patch, then reverted to type, notching a miserable 3 goals in his last 24 appearances. In his home country, at Torino, he's struggled to make an impact, starting just 3 games, subbing in 11 times, usually in the last 25 minutes and scoring just once. He's clearly as out of form as everyone.

So to tonight's game. Valencia will finish third whatever happens. So a dead rubber game, right? Not exactly, besides the morale boost from a win and the bragging rights gained from sticking it to a much loathed figure like Mourinho, there are short term and long term advantages to winning. 

Short term, a draw earns us €900,000, a win nearly 3 million. There's also the seeding situation in the Europa league. The best 4 third-placed teams will be seeded and the others unseeded. Currently, we have 5 points and of the four groups that have finished, Napoli have 9pts, Inter 8, Bruges 6 and Galatasaray 4. Looking at the groups still to play, it seems that only a win will get us seeded, draw or lose and we will be unseeded in Monday's Europa league draw. Longer term, a win improves our European ranking, making it more likely we can get a better seeding in future, while also earning more money due to a better ranking.

In teams news, the four Gs are out. Gabriel, Guedes and Gameiro are injured, Gaya is suspended. I'd expect to see Neto in goal rather than Jaume, with Lato on the left and Diakhaby and Garay in the centre. Right back will be interesting, it would be a good chance to rest Wass and bring Piccini back  Cheryshev will likely start on the left and Parejo in the centre. Kondogbia should start this one to give Coquelin a rest with Soler making up the right wing. Up front, Bats should start with one of Mina and Rodrigo rested and then coming on later as a sub. Kangin is on the bench and this would be a good time to blood him in the second half. 

I'm not sure how much of this one I'll watch and it finishes late my time so I won't be doing a match report tonight. Please use this thread to give us your thoughts before, during and after the game.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Juventus 1-0 Valencia post-match

Seems like it's only me interested in writing posts here these days.....

Valencia's Champions league campaign ended as it started, a useless attacking display ending in a defeat to Juventus.

Just one change in the line-up, Soler was dropped, Kondogbia returned and Coquelin shifted to right wing. Overall, I was mostly satisfied with the team's play and would give them 6/10 collectively. Neto did very well, the defence too. Wass is not the long term right back solution, but handled his side well, I remember one moment when Ronaldo threatened to go one on one and Wass made a key tackle. Gaya similarly. Paulista continues at a good level, got beaten for the goal but it was a moment of skill by Ronaldo so I can forgive it. Diakhaby I rate as a good pick-up given his age and potential, but he still has areas to improve. His aerial game is decent but could be better and he still doesn't look 100% confident releasing the ball, but he was the closest of our players to scoring with a great header just before half time. Coquelin was good as usual and deserves a starting place. Guedes better this game, but still short of last season's level, Marcelino recently put it down to the fact that he hasn't totally recovered from injury.

The let down was in central midfield and attack. Okay, Parejo wasn't a disaster. He remained calm and got us out of a few jams with his passing but he also screwed up twice, leading to breakaways which could have cost us a goal, one from a rubbish corner.... I said in the last post that he's been poor at set pieces. Kondogbia, on the other hand, was just rubbish. Offered almost nothing, don't know what's happened to him since last season?

Rodrigo and Mina were totally anonymous and bossed out of the game by the Juventus defence.  Rodrigo's substitution was due to injury worries, but it didn't matter as Gameiro and Bats offered nothing after coming on to suggest they'd have been better. Soler, similarly was poor and he looked tired same as the last game.

Final criticism is that I thought we were too negative. I could accept us sitting back in the first half but after going a goal down, we may as well have gone for it: losing 3-0 would have been the same. It's frustrating to lose out to a mediocre Man Utd team who qualified due to a handball goal, but in the end I don't think we can complain too much. The performances this season have not been those of one of the best 16 teams in Europe.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Valencia 3-1 Young Boys post-match thread

Finally, a home win, a half decent performance, especially in attack, with the team scoring three goals in a competitive game for the first time since 18 March (!)

In the Girona game I thought the performance was better, even if we suffered from the usual wastefulness in front of goal, at least we were creating more chances. Last night, Soler was excellent with Mina and Rodrigo also enjoying good performances, Guedes showing flashes of last season and a fairly solid midfield duo of Kondogbia and Coquelin.

The win means it's very likely Valencia will continue in European football after the winter break. Unfortunately. Manchester's win at Juventus means it's almost certain Valencia will be in Europa league. Just beating Manchester at Mestalla is now not enough. If we lose or draw at Juventus, we have to hope Man United then fail to win at home to Young Boys. Alternatively, we need to win at Juventus. So, our destiny at least is in our hands, but it looks like a step too far.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Young Boys 1-1 Valencia

Valencia throw away two points and millions of euros in prize money in another incompetent display, especially in the second half.

The line-up contained no surprises. Garay had picked up a minor injury so Diakhaby came back in. I was happy to see Ferran start on the left. The other options were Wass, who's been off form, Coquelin out of position or a Gaya-Lato combo.

The team started well enough. After a few early struggles to adjust to the plastic pitch the team started to find a rhythm and attacked, but it was the usual story, once we got to their final third play broke down and we failed to create any real chances. This was despite Bats looking better this game, taking better touches and passing well, something the team messed up at times.

Valencia went ahead in the 26th minute, Soler providing a great assist with a deft flick-on allowing Bats to round the keeper and finish well from a narrow angle. Sadly, that would be the peak of Valencia. The first half followed most of the same pattern that we have seen game in game out this season cluelessness in the final third.

Predictably, with Valencia failing to build a comfortable lead, many of us were already guessing what would happen next: the team gave away an idiotic penalty, with Captain Parejo the culprit. It's hard to see what the hell he was doing, it looked like a stretching exercise but after the equaliser, their tails were up and they dominated the rest of the encounter. Neto, who was our best player on the night, had to come to the rescue several times. A couple of the saves looked like sheer dumb luck, which we won't have against all teams.

Manchester losing at home to Juventus means that, astonishingly, we're still in with a chance of a last 16 place. But we'd have to beat both Young Boys and MUFC at home and hope MUFC lose at Juve. I just can't see it and neither do I think our incompetent displays deserve it.

After the game Marcelino said he couldn't think of a logical explanation as to why the team had drawn 9 out of 12 games. Is he for real? It's blatantly obvious to all of us why.

Neto is possibly the only player that has been playing at a consistently decent level. The defence have generally been with it too, but tonight was an off-night with many stupid errors. On the plus side as well, Piccini has been improving and may yet find his place in the team: he's gone from bad to average in recent games. Just 2 goals conceded from open play in 9 games shows that there is hope in this bunch but....

...the forward line has just been woeful. They seem to need 10 chances just to even hit the target, nevermind score. Not far behind them in incompetence is the midfield. Kondogbia was disappointing tonight and overall this season. Parejo needs a rest on the bench. There seems to be a disconnect and total lack of understanding between midfield and attack which means we are failing to capitalise on what are good defensive performances more often than not.

But the biggest problem is that we do not seem to be progressing or learning anything. We just repeat the same mistakes over and over again, with the manager often guilty. A predictable playing style (a counter attacking 4-4-2) with no plan B which just about every team in La Liga has figured out how to counter. Too much rotation leading to the lack of understanding between MF and Forwards. Certain players (yes you Dani) who seem to always play regardless of form. At times bizarre substitutions: how many times have we seen a third forward come on with Rodrigo shifted back to the wings. At least four times and IT NEVER WORKS!

I'm far from the sack Marcelino camp and agree with commenters who say it's far too soon, but the man needs to change something up rather than stubbornly repeating what blatantly isn't working as time is rapidly running out, with a quarter of the season now gone. The upcoming stretch of games is relatively easier with a cup game at Ebro in the mix to allow a few experiments, but if things don't improve then, Marcelino's credit at the bank will soon run out and we will hear jeers and whistles soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Manchester United 0-0 Valencia post-match thoughts

Post-match thoughts rather than a full match write-up, because the truth is that last night's game was a dull snoozefest, devoid of clear chances for each side, so I'd prefer to talk more generally. What we saw on the whole were 2 teams out-of-form, lacking in confidence and performing way below the level that they should, who fought each other to a stalemate. The first 70 minutes were an even enough game, with few clear cut chances. Manchester United were a bit better in the last 20 minutes as they became increasingly desparate to score, but a draw was a fair result.

That's 6 games out of 8 that we've drawn and I don't think that's an accident. After a shaky start to the season, the defence and Neto have really sharpened up. Only 1 goal conceded from open play in the last 6 games is testament to that. Murillo has his fans but for me, he'd be fourth choice. Garay-Gabriel are the best pairing we have at the moment, with Diakhaby a good option when there's a vacancy: usually due to Garay's injuries. The Gabriel-Diakhany partnership has kept three clean sheets in a row. Gabriel, in particular, deserves praise. He's been at a good level recently and controlled Lukaku like a boss last night. Right back, obviously remains the exception.

Central midfield has been more rather than less. Parejo has been average but Kondogbia and Coquelin have been in decent form. Last night, the latter was the only selection surprise, starting on the right, in an obvious attempt to shore up the right side defensive problem. On the whole it didn't work for me. Coquelin looked uncomfortable there and, weirdly, Soler has offered better cover when on, so that didn't work.

All the above qualities are useless if we can't score and for us the problem in this game was the one that has been blatantly obvious all season: useless in the final third with all our attack-minded players below the level we expect and have seen before, with Soler the one closest to the previous level. Rodrigo, Guedes and Cheryshev have been a shadow of the players from last season/the world cup. Guedes was mostly poor last night. Got into good space many times but poor shooting and decision making meant nothing came of it.

Batshauyi has been possibly the biggest disappointment. A less decisive version of Zaza. He's good at holding up the ball but holds it too long and either ends up crowded out and loses possession or, by the time he passes, the other team has had enough time to get men back. Not good enough for a team built on fast counter-attacks. I'd hoped that last night his English experience would lead to improved performance, but no, it was the same old. He just seems to lack any connection and understanding with teammates. I know I defended Zaza leaving but he had good understanding with Rodrigo, Guedes and Soler and did something with the ball. I wish we still had Zaza in the team.

Gameiro, with the exception of the Sociedad game, just reminds me of Mina from 2 seasons ago: runs a lot but mostly for nothing as he usually doesn't get into useful positions or have the understanding with teammates necessary to make something of it.

A couple of general points from this game and others. We seem to be shooting from outside the box quite a bit and most of the time it's well over. Guedes last night and Rodrigo, Batshauyi, Soler, Parejo and Wass, among others, have all disappointed in this sense. The wild shots from distance are a sign of a lack of confidence: patience and waiting for the chance to find a forward would work better. But it we are going to do it, at least hit the target. We might get a lucky bounce or a rebound which allows us to score.

Secondly, professionals of this level shouldn't be letting themselves be suckered into so many silly yellow card fouls. Rodrigo and Kondogbia were unjustly booked last night, but Parejo did his usual stunt of panicking when his man got away from him and picking up a blatant yellow. We can complain about refereeing mistakes (Pogba's play acting last night was disgraceful) but if we give refs the chance to card us, we can't complain.

Overall, pre-season, or when the draw was made, we'd all have taken a draw at Old Trafford, but I feel a bit disappointed. Short term. like the Villarreal game, it's a decent result, but in the overall context, it's a let down. I saw no improvement in attack from us. Man United are in poor form and I definitely feel that the Valencia of a year ago would have won by a goal or two. Conversely, had Man U been in form, I think they'd have beaten us by two goals at least.

A result better for us than them, but one which makes it very hard to reach next round. In the last game, most likely Juventus, even with a weakened team, will beat us and Man U will win at home to Young Boys. That means we need to take 6 points from the Swiss, hope Man U don't win either of the Juve games and then we beat Man U at home. Doable, but I just don't have the confidence in the team, the attack in particular, as they are currently playing to believe in this and so I think we should brace ourselves for Europa league.


Neto 8 - positioning always good and handled everything MUFC threw at him. Solid performance.
Gaya 7 - has been in good form and showed no weakness last night
Gabriel 8.5 - excellent game. One of his best in a Valencia shirt. Always reliable, cut out everything and gave no quarter.
Garay 7.5 - solid as a rock and dominated them in the air.
Piccini 5 - I'd give him 6/6.5 for attacking contributions and 4 for defence. Wasn't a disaster but had a couple of bad moments, including nearly conceding a penalty. Replacing Montoya with him has been pointless so far.
Guedes 5 - a let down. Poor first half when he got every decision wrong. Better in second period but still not showing enough.
Parejo 6 - passed well and cleaned up okay but loses marks for his usual silly yellow
Kondogbia 8 - best midfielder on the pitch, made Pogba and the rest of their midfield look ordinary
Coquelin 5.5 - worst game since his return, looked a bit lost at times out of position
Rodrigo 5.5 - disappointing display and still looks far off his best. Put in one decent cross which Guedes missed, but that was about it
Batshuayi 4.5 - big let down again and still not showing the ability we know he has

Gameiro 5 - not much of an improvement on Bats and had limited opportunities
Soler 6.5 - probably would have been better to start him. Offered more in both attack and defence.
Cheryshev N/A - had a couple of good moments, but far off his world cup level

Thursday, August 30, 2018

UEFA Champions league draw

So now we know our opponents: Juventus, Manchester United and Young Boys Berne.

A tough group, Juventus will be the favourites and Young Boys the underdogs. Our most likely route to qualification involves taking 6 points off the Swiss and hoping that Man United continue their malaise such that we take points off them.

Interestingly, Valencia have never faced either Young Boys or Juventus in Europe before. We have faced Manchester Utd on 4 occasions before. We beat them in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup first round. We then faced them in the Champions league 3 times. In 1999/2000 we drew 0-0 at Mestalla and lost 0-3 away in the second group stage. The following year two draws against them in the second group stage. The most recent occasion in 2010/11 we lost 0-1 at Mestalla and were leading at Old Trafford until they equalised late in the game.

Fixture dates and times are

1. Valencia - Juventus (19.september) 21.00
2. Manchester United - Valencia (2.october) 21.00
3. Young Boys - Valencia (23.october) 19.00
4. Valencia - Young Boys (7.november) 19.00
5. Juventus - Valencia (27.november) 21.00
6. Valencia - Manchester United (12.december) 21.00

A tough enough start, we really need to take some points from the first two, then go into the double header vs Young Boys in the middle and take 6 points.

Lastly, Guedes' contract was confirmed earlier by the club. He signs until 2024 with a release clause of 300 million euro (!) The release clause is monster, I'd heard 175m talked about so this figure is obviously good as it shows again that the club is willing to protect its assets. If he has a great season and the predators appear we can wave them away or make them pay a suitable 9-figure sum.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Valencia sign Ricardo Campos / more on Guedes

Another addition to the ranks today. Valencia have added Ricardo Campos from Juventus under 19s.

He joins on loan for a season, with Valencia having the option to make it permanent for around a million euros. Campos is 18 years old and can play across the front line, but mostly plays as a right winger and occasionally as a second striker. He was a Benfica youth product before Pablo Longoria brought him to Italy in 2016. He enjoyed a great first season, scoring 10 goals in 20 appearances for Juve U-17, but spent most of last season on the bench. However, Longoria obviously judges him worth a second look and he'll likely be assigned to Valencia Mestalla for assessment and, with Soler, Ferran and Wass covering the right wing spot, will probably be limited to Copa del Rey appearances for the first team, if at all.

Further on Guedes, sources now say he will join on loan for the season, with Valencia then having an obligatory buy clause of 40 million, with a further 10 million in "achievable" add-ons and 7 million in "difficult to achieve" add-ons. Presumably the achievable add-ons will cover things like goals scored, appearances, maybe Valencia qualifying for Champions league etc and the difficult ones will possibly be similar to those of Andre Gomes' sale to FCB: winning La Liga, reaching Champs league semis, nominated for Balon D'or etc. (I'm speculating, since sources don't clarify what they are.) PSG don't have a buy back option as the player himself was adamant he didn't want this and he had burnt his bridges there anyway by refusing more lucrative offers from England. There's also been no mention in sources of PSG getting any % of a future deal.

Amid the euphoria, there have been some Valencia fans questioning the deal, based on Valencia's poor financial situation and the fact he faded in the second half of the season and had a disappointing world cup. With Valencia's net transfer spending in this window the 10th highest, it does put considerable pressure on the club to achieve top 4, as otherwise we're in for another "summer of 16" (Gomes, Mustafi and Alcacer sold) where we'll be selling at least 2 key players, and probably more, to balance the books.

Valencia have also announced they'll play a friendly on 5 September against Alcoyano of Segunda B. That's the day of the international break, so it will effectively function as a training match for those not on international duty. Lastly, Dynamo Kyiv overcoming a 3-1 deficit against Ajax tonight will provide Valencia with 1.108 million in Champs league prize money.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

News update

Firstly, a bit of news which passed us by last week. Valencia bought Jeison Murillo outright. We had until 30 June 2019 to exercise the compulsory buy under his loan deal. Murillo has always been well rated by fans but has found opportunities limited. He was out injured for 3 months last year and when he came back he was paired with Gabriel, as Garay was then injured. When the latter returned, Murillo was then dropped to the bench. It's pretty clear that Marcelino's preferred central defence duo is Garay and Gabriel and it now seems that Diakhaby may be the third choice as he was preferred for the Atletico game, with Murillo not even making the squad. So the timing of this one is a bit weird. But with extra games this season, hopefully Murillo will get his chance.

Superdeporte claim that Valencia are in negotiations to sign Lenny Pintor (Transfermarkt profile here) from France's second division. Pintor has just turned 18, plays as a left winger mainly but can also fit in on the right wing and as a secondary striker. This seems like another of Pablo Longoria's future investments and would be very much a depth/prospect type player along the lines of Uros Racic or Diakhaby. On the left wing, the Guedes saga drags on and for now it looks like no more than 50/50 that he'll join us. PSG are refusing to budge from their demand of 60-70m, a price beyond Valencia's means. A second loan seems out of the question. With the transfer window closing on 31 August, at least we'll know for sure soon. Alemany has said he is ready in case we don't get Guedes, so presumably we will have another left winger in mind apart from Pintor.

Similarly, despite continued links with Real Madrid, it looks unlikely that Rodrigo is going anywhere. While Lopetegui seems keen on bringing him, the Real Madrid fanbase and RM president seem unconvinced, especially since Alemany is insisting on the clause of 120m.

Rodrigo, along with Parejo, Gaya, Soler and Santi Mina is in Luis Enrique's preliminary list of 65 players for the forthcoming Nations League games. That list will be cut to 23, and Mina and Soler and probably Gaya at least would probably be among the players cut, but it's a sign that some of our talents are on the fringes and at least in the running.

Lastly, the final qualifying round of the Champions league is being played this week and next. This is the provisional situation

Valencia still need one of Benfica, Salzburg or PSV to be eliminated in order to make Pot 3 which would give us a better chance of an easier draw.. Last night's first leg results were:

RS Belgrade 0-0 RB Salzburg
Benfica 1-1 PAOK

PSV are strong favourites to go through and Salzburg in control, so our best chance seems to be PAOK beating Benfica. The draw for the group stage will take place next Thursday, 30 August. Time hasn't been confirmed but it's been at 18:00 Spanish time in previous years.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The essentials about Valencia's champs league participation

Last season Valencia achieved what most of us doubted last summer: a return to the UEFA Champions league. The draw for the group stage will take place a month from today, though qualifying rounds have already been played for the last five weeks. Compared to when Valencia last played there in 2015-16 several changes have been made. The biggest one has been to have increased numbers of qualifying rounds for the majority of less successful federations, but give the 4th placed team from the top 4 automatic entry to the CL group stage. 

Last time round, VCF had to play a qualifier and despite being seeded, got a tough opponent in Monaco FC, who they edged. Had the old system continued, Valencia would have been unseeded in the last qualifying round and could have faced a tough tie against someone like Liverpool or Roma. That change is good news for us. 

The second change which is good news is that the cash on offer has increased by nearly half, from €1.35 billion to €1.95 billion. Last time out, VCF took home 27m, picking up another 2.1m from the Europa league. We stand to make a lot more this time.

VCF's champs league earnings will come four ways: a participation fee, a 10-year ranking, market pool and performance bonuses.

The first is the easiest to explain. Every team that plays in the group stage gets 15.25 million. 

The 10-year ranking is new for this year. Basically, there are 528 "shares" split between the 32 clubs based on their performances in the previous 10 seasons in European competitions. Each share is worth 1.108 million. The highest ranked team (Real Madrid) gets 32 shares, the second and third teams (Barca and Bayern) 31 and 30 respectively, down to the 32nd team which gets one share. Valencia are provisionally eighteenth in the ranking so will get at least 15 shares for a total of 16.6 million. However, that could increase if either Benfica or Basle (or both) get knocked out in qualifying. In that case Valencia would get 17.7 or 18.8 million. 

The market pool is another way of saying tv revenue. That seems to have been cut in half this season, with the money going instead to the 10-year ranking. UEFA don't release these figures until the October or November after the champions league final, so we don't yet know what teams got last season, but working off previous seasons, it seems like Spanish teams will get 8.8 million for Barca, 6.6 for Atleti, 4.4 million for R.Madrid and 2.2 million for us. Teams will also get about half a million per game they play, so provisionally, about 5.2 million for Valencia for the group stage.

Lastly, there's performance bonus. Each champs league group stage game has prize money of 2.7 million. If a team wins, that's easy, they get all of it. If it's a draw, it gets more complicated. Each team gets 900,000 with the remaining 900,000 put into a pot and split between teams based on the number of games they won. Roughly speaking, that means a win is worth close on 3 million and a draw 900,000.

Getting to the last sixteen earns 9.5 million. Reaching the quarters adds 10.5 million. Those amounts aren't cumulative so VCF would get 20 million in prize money for reaching those two rounds. Semis add 12 million and reaching the final earns 15 million. The winners get 4 million on top of that and qualify for the UEFA Super cup where the winners get 4.5 million and the losers 3.5 million.

So worst case scenario, VCF loses all 6 games we still earn 37 million.
Best case scenario, Basle and Benfica eliminated, VCF wins everything (we might as well think big) we get 116 million.

I think all that shows just how important it is for us to make the CL a regular thing instead of once every 3 or 4 seasons. 

The biggest problem is that 2 years of not qualifying for Europe at all have really hurt Valencia's ranking. Last time round we were ranked 14th and comfortably made it into pot 2. For now, we are 21st, which would be pot 3, but there are a number of teams in qualifying with a higher ranking than us: Benfica, Basel, Dynamo Kyiv and Ajax in the league route, which has 2 qualifying places, and Ludogorets, Salzburg and PSV in the champions route, which has 4 places. To get pot 3, we need to hope that no more than 3 of the 6 qualifiers have a higher ranking than us. Most likely that means seeing Ludogorets, who drew 0-0 at home in the first leg, getting knocked out this week and 1 of PSV or Salzburg failing to make it. Pot 3 would mean our easiest team could be Bruges, Plzen or Galatasaray instead of Liverpool, Roma or Schalke.

A crunch season ahead, hopefully we won't crash and burn like we did last time. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Valencia CF vs Olympique Lyonnais Match Preview

Image result for lyon fc logo
Valencia CF vs Lyon Match Preview
Stadium: Mestalla
Date: 09.12.2015 20:45 CET
UCL Group Stage - Matchday 6
Coaches: Gary Neville and Hubert Fournier


The Mestalla experienced an excellent comback from Valencia CF, against arugably the best team in LA LIGA, Barcelona FC. The appointment of Gary Neville has brought a new enthusiasm within the players and the fans, no wonder nearly 3000 fans turned up at the Paterna to watch Gary Neville conduct his first training session. However, there are people who are skeptical about Gary's appointment, and only time will tell, if his appointment was a good or a bad move by Peter Lim. Valencia CF look full of confidence after playing Barcelona, though they just drew the game, it was one of the most intense games Valencia CF have played this season. We can expect the Mestalla to be full again, as the club is selling highly discounted tickets, so that no seat remains vacant for the one of the most important games of the season against Lyon. 

Lyon have had a terrible start to their season, losing 5 out of their last 7 games played. If we look at their UCL stats, this can be their worst performance ever in the UCL. Curently standing on 5th place in Ligue 1, their team morale is at its lowest, something which isn't helpful when you take that corner from the Curva Nord. Fortunately for Valencia CF, Lyon don't have a good track record against Valencia CF, having played 3 games against Los Che and losing all of them. Valbuena will be their main player, trying to create chances for their strikers. He was heavily linked with Valencia CF in the past, however, that deal didn't go through. 

Gary Neville, had an intensive traning session with the lads at Valencia CF. He even installed special video cameras and has brought in video technicians to record every single move happening on the training ground. He was seen training and spending a lot of time with Mustafi as he is back from injury, I feel Neville will start Mustafi and Abdennour, a defensive pair I have been waiting to watch the entire season. Negredo is back in the squad, however, I feel he won't start the game, but maybe will substitute Paco or Santi Mina later on. Cancelo is back after missing the game against Barcelone, where Vezo looked extremely weak against Neymar. Cancelo is one of Mendes' clients, who I believe was a very good buy along with A. Gomes. He has developed tremendously over the last several months. I see Danilo starting this game over Javi Fuego, as Danilo brings in some attacking capabilities with him and is more versatile, however, Fuego brings in way more experience in such big games. 

Lyon players to look out for - Valbuena,Gonalons and Lacazette

Valencia CF Squad:
Goalkeepers: Doménech, Ryan
Defenders: Cancelo, Abdennour, Santos, Gaya, Mustafi
Midfielders: Javi Fuego, Danilo, Enzo Perez, Parejo, Tropi, Nacho Gil, De Paul
Forwards: Negredo, Paco Alcácer, Santi Mina 

Technical Details Valencia CF (probable setups):
Formation: 4-4-2
Line-up: Jaume; Cancelo, Mustafi, Abdennour, Gaya; Perez, Parejo, Danilo, De Paul, Paco, Santi Mina. 
Tactics: Strong possession play, through passes, wing attacks, low defensive pressure
Prediction: 2-0

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Zenit St Petersburg 2 - 0 Valencia CF Champions League

Another disappointing night for Valencia in a freezing St Petersburg.  The big story of the night was the surprising inclusion of youngster Rafa Mir making his debut first the first team. Was this going to be a master move or a reckless gamble, well, although he tried hard and was willing, he failed to score or make any impact on the game therefore we can all make our own minds up on that one.

With Vezo stepping in for the injured Mustafi Valencia were enjoying slightly more of the possession without causing the home side any real problems. After his late inclusion on Saturday for the injured Vezo I was expecting good things from the young Portuguese however it was going to be one of those nights he and the rest of the team will want to soon forget, twice being at fault for failing to clear the ball gave Zenit the lead after 15 minutes.

Things went from bad to worse in the second half when Zenit got their second goal after 74 minutes waltzing through the Valencia defence to put the game out of reach. Despite the dominance of the home team Valencia had more of the ball possession but were unable to make many chances of note with Hulk again running the show with his strength and power.

Just to cap a bad night Vezo gets himself a red card for ploughing into Shatov, who the ref adjudged was through on goal when he had his legs taken away on the edge of the penalty box in the 80th minute.  To be fair Zenit deserved the win which gives them 5 out of 5 now.

Conclusion    We were well beaten by a far better side on the night. Zenit had the experience with age and they also had Hulk, who made all the difference.  The Valencia side are a team for the future and it showed tonight up against the big boys. There will need to be changes in the playing staff and probably the manager. With Gent winning tonight it puts our chance of proceeding in the competition on a knife edge now.  It also means we have only two central defenders for the next game against Lyon which we must win and hope that Zenit beat Gent.

Jaume 6.5   Not at fault with either goal and had a reasonably quiet night although made a couple of good saves
Cancello 6.5  Had a decent performance but the whole defence looked a bit like strangers for the goals.
Vezo  4  Really disappointing evening after his good late performance on Saturday. A night to forget for him.
Abdenour 6.5  Looks a bit off the pace after his long lay off but still a class player in my opinion. We need him back to speed soon.
Gaya 6.0  The guy needs a break, he is looking off the pace and not up to his old high standard. Have we given up on Orban, I thought he might have played tonight.
Perez  7  I thought he had a good game and was busy all over the pitch and failed to get a yellow card so that is a huge plus.
Parejo 7  Was busy and a major improvement on his dismal performance against Las Palmas but no telling shots or decent through balls
Gomez 6.5  Is really grafting hard to try to get the team going but failed to make much impact tonight.
Feghouli 6  I am sure he should not be playing with his injury. I think the problem is lack of quality depth in the squad. Tried hard but with little impact
Alcacer  6  Not his fault but looked isolated yet again but tried to link up with new boy Mir but it didn't really work.
Mir  6  I guess this one is a player for the future. Tonights game would have been a great experience for him as not many players debut in the Champions League, for obvious reasons.
Santi Mina 6.5 for Mir 56 mins     Had a good game for the short time he was on
Barbosa for Perez  73 mins   N/A
De Paul  for Cancello 78 mins   N/A