Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

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.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Ezequiel Garay announces his retirement

 Ezequiel Garay announced his retirement from professional football today.

The player had been without a club since leaving us last year. He revealed that he had been suffering with a long term injury since 2018 and had had offers from other clubs since leaving us, but felt that it would have been dishonest to accept them since the injury situation would have meant he would only have been available for one game out of every three.

Valencia first attempted to buy Garay in summer 2015 as Otamendi's replacement. It's not clear why the deal didn't happen then and we got Abdennour instead, who turned out to be a disaster. 

With the hapless Abdennour shipped out on loans we got Garay the following year and his best years followed with the arrival of Marcelino in 2017 as he formed a solid backline with Paulista. Ultimately, his decision to speak out strongly against the sacking of Marcelino sealed his fate. Given Lim's vindictiveness, he would have been released last year anyway. A serious injury suffered against Celta in the 43rd minute on 1 February 2020 proved to be the end of his career. In total he played 114 games for us over four seasons, scoring 6 goals.  

It's unclear why no one picked him up last season. He was still highly rated enough to be signed on a contract that would include a significant "pay as you play" element. Ultimately it wasn't to be and I'm sure all of us will wish him well in his retirement.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Valencia vs Leeds in 2001 UEFA Champions League semi-final

With Lim running the club into the ground and now not even being shy about the fact that he doesn't care (see his Financial Times interview where he says the club is a "trophy asset that is incredibly good for networking) it's hard to believe that Valencia was one of the top clubs in Europe. Today is the 20th anniversary of our last UEFA Champions League semi-final versus Leeds United. (It is, incidentally, also Leeds' last Champions League game.)

Valencia had of course reached the previous final, suffering a disappointing 0-3 reversal against Real Madrid. The result was also a let down in Zaragoza, since Madrid had finished 5th and it therefore deprived Zaragoza of a Champs league place. In the summer, in a reminder that we were always a selling club, we lost Piojo Lopez to Lazio for 35m (€49m in today's money.) Gerard to Barcelona for 24m and Farinos to Inter for €16m. We did at least use part of that money wisely, bringing in players who would be the mainstay of the team in the following years: Aimar from River Plate, John Carew from Rosenberg, Vicente from Levante and Ayala from Milan.

Under Hector Cuper, Valencia was fired up and ready to go one better. With only the top two Spanish teams qualifying automatically for the group stage, we had to enter a play-off versus Tirol Innsbruck. After a goalless draw in Austria, Valencia easily brushed them aside 4-1 at Mestalla, with a brace from Mendieta and Diego Alonso.