Monday, January 30, 2023

Gattuso sacked

 And so the Meriton managerial merry-go-round continues. Valencia announced earlier today that Gattuso has left the club "by mutual consent." 

This just sounds like a polite way of saying that he was fired. Since a win at Osasuna in early October, Valencia have played 14 games and won just 3. Two of those were against lower league opposition in the Copa, so don't really count. In the league the numbers were becoming awful: 1 win, 4 draws and 5 defeats. 

The squad planning has been poor with big gaps. The midfield has been increasingly weak and easily overrun. As the season has gone on, players who showed promise early in the season like Comert, Cenk, Guillamon, Almeida and Musah have all regressed. The coach has to shoulder responsibility for that.

Another issue is that the team has been mentally fragile. In no fewer than 5 games this season (Espanyol and Villarreal away; Elche, Mallorca and Almeria at home) Valencia led. The points tally from those games? 3. We lost 2 and drew 3. That's 12 points squandered as a result of poor game management, in games where we would mostly be expected to win in any case. 

The late goals conceded also point to that. 83rd minute against Espanyol and Mallorca, 86th against Sevilla, 88th against Villarreal, 90th against Valladolid, 93rd against Barcelona = 8 points thrown away. 

Gattuso and his style of play was broadly welcomed as a breath of fresh air after the stodgy, hard-to-watch, anti-football of the Bordalas era. Sadly, his inexperience showed in the end and he should have done much better with this group of players. In the end, only Ayestaran and Prandelli have had shorter stints in the Lim era, while Gattuso's percentage of games won sees him below even Gary Neville. Caveats about squad strength aside, the results were simply not good enough.

Of course, all of us will know the wider picture of Meriton chaos and mismanagement and it is they, not Gattuso, who have to take the lion's share of the blame for all this. Unfortunately, we are now in the all too familiar situation of hoping Voro can somehow conjure some magic to save us, but this is totally not sustainable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Valencia CF vs Athletic Bilbao Match Preview

Valencia CF just can't seem to get any result in La Liga, even when things seemed to be picking up and we had a moment of optimism it all comes crashing down as Valencia CF drew at the Mestalla against UD Almeria. I was really excited for the match and full of optimism that finally we are going to record a win and start turning things around, we played really well against Real Madrid with that formation and lineup, Gattuso stuck with the same things in the Spanish cup against Sporting Gijon and Valencia CF won easily, so I was expecting a solid victory against UD Almeria, one of the weakest teams currently in La Liga. Well, it seems like Valencia CF is competing for the weakest team in La Liga as well, and they are just three points away from relegation. 

Valencia CF vs Athletic Bilbao Copa del Rey Match Preview

Valencia CF is facing Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey though and as such there might be chances for a win, though Valencia CF has hardly faced stiff opposition in the cup and Athletic Bilbao is the first real tough opponent. A win here would place Valencia CF in the semifinal and give fans some cause for celebration. 

Valencia's record in all competitions coming into this match is 3 losses, 2 wins and 1 draw on the opposite side Athletic have 2 wins, 2 loses and 2 draws. Valencia's La Liga stats are 25 goals scored and 20 goals conceded and Athletic have very similar stats with 25 scored and 19 goals conceded. The biggest difference between these clubs is the possession with Valencia CF on top of the charts with 59% possession rate and nothing to show for it, while Athletic Bilbao have 51% possession rate, but appear to be using the most of that possession and creating enough chances. 

Valencia CF are also better in the passing accuracy department as well as aerial duels won, with the only stat being worse than Athletico's being shots conceded per game, but only by just a tad. Valencia CF are also one of the most fouled team in the league, with little protection from the referees, in fact part of our issues might be refereeing related as they just don't seem to award enough cards and penalties for Valencia CF. Our team gets fouled constantly and our actions and flow stopped, but the opposing teams always seem to get away with it, with barely any punishment. Valencia CF should definitely ask for more protection from the referees based on actual statistical data and facts that we are one of the most fouled team in the league! 

All of Valencia's stats actually seem really good, but why we don't have any results is beyond all reason! Obviously, our team is extremely error prone and individual mistakes do cost us often, but even that doesn't fully explain the bad results. 

At this point I feel like we need an experienced and great central defender to organize the defense. Paulista used to do that to a certain degree in the past, but now he's out of form and was out of the squad for a long period with injury, so we need someone like Nicolas Otamendi to sort out our defense. He is currently playing at Benfica and his contract is expiring this summer, so Valencia CF should move swiftly and sign the player. He is not going to cost anything more than 1 million euros and I'm sure he'll love to finish out his career at Valencia CF the club which made him a household name. 

I think we are going to see mostly the same lineup from our last match, with few chances just to give some players rest and have them fit for the next game in La Liga. 

Valencia starting lineup: Mamardashvili; Correia, Comert, Diakhaby, Gaya; Musah, Guillamon, Almeida; Kluivert, Cavani, Lino

Valencia CF formation: 4-4-2

Valencia CF tactics: High defensive line when attacking with two defenders covering at the back and Hugo Guilamon falling back to serve as a defensive cover. Lato and Correia interchanging position as both can attack and defend. Mostly long crosses from the wings with generally shorter passes through the center of the field. Cavani positioned aggressively in the front, serving mostly as a static threat, while Lino running channels more and shifting position.

Match prediction: Valencia CF 3-1 Athletic Bilbao

I'm going to persist with my optimism and big wins prediction as we have all of the tools at our disposal to do exactly that. If you look at all of the stats Valencia CF is doing really good, in fact in the top 6 good in almost every department. All the team needs to do is stay concentrated for 90 minutes + stoppage time and don't do anything stupid defensively. Seems simple enough, right? 

Gattuso needs to figure out how to secure our backline and we should be good. I'm hoping he figures something out and implements it in this match, because I really want to believe and I'm hoping for good results with that issue figured out and solved. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Valencia CF vs UD Almeria Match Preview

Valencia CF has been on a downward spiral in the last couple of matches, but they showed signs of life against Real Madrid and Sporting Gijon in the Copa del Rey. Gattuso played with a 4-4-2 formation in those matches, and it seems like it produced good play, though I personally think it was more of the lineup that produced those results, rather than the formation itself. We had Almeida in central midfield in both matches, something we've lacked with Nico playing there instead, we've also had Hugo Guillamon a lot in midfield, and he's been having a really bad patch recently. 
So, with the current batch of midfielders, we seem to be a lot more secure in midfield, with Yunus covering at the back and playing that more defensive role, while Almeida has more leeway to push the ball forward and he does so really well. Justin Kluivert has also been playing great on the wing and has provided a good outpost there for our team, he can solo play on the flank, or he can play with the team and create chances. 

Toni Lato completes the midfield and with him playing on the right flank we have a more secure backline, he is used to tracking back and tackling opponents, so we get better defense with him on the flank, while also offering reasonable attacking prowess. Don't forget we have Correia who can bombard more freely on the flank as well, knowing that Lata will cover for him at the back. So, we get both more offensive and defensive power on that right flank with Lato playing there.

I also like Cenk and Comert at the back, I think Cenk provides more stability at the back, he has that maturity of a much older and more experienced central defender, but he's still very young and can improve even further. Comert has also gelled in a lot better with the team since his arrival here the previous season, and in combination with Cenk they seem to work well for now.

The question now is how long will this last? Is the coach on to something with this setup or is it just a fluke? We often play much better against the big teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid and suffer to reproduce that play against the weaker opposition. So, this match to me is extremely exciting as it will show if this new formation and team composition is actually any good or just another fluke and we go back to being demoralized and searching for new solutions and blaming Meriton and wishing for better transfers and players. 

I'm sick and tired of seeing a weak Valencia CF, not even a mediocre one, I consider Valencia CF playing for that 6th position, the last position that leads into Europe mediocre, maybe we get it, maybe we don't, but that is a mediocre Valencia CF that can barely manage European competition, but for the past several seasons we've been finishing at mid table or worse. To me that is a very weak Valencia CF and each consecutive season we seem to be doing worse, rather than better. 

The rushed and weird transfers the management does don't help at all, the inconsiderate coach changes don't make sense at all, Meriton and its owner don't seem to know when we have good things going for us. There was a period of 2 years when Marcelino was coach when we were doing reasonably good, we also had a really great sporting director at the time, but Marcelino was sacked and soon after the sporting director left but was realistically forced out. 

I just want to watch a Valencia CF match and be excited and happy most of the time. I don't want to watch disappointments over and over again, where we lose matches who are certain wins on paper, we lose or draw in the last moments of matches for no apparent reason, we blunder absurd goals, etc... What does it take to have a solid Valencia CF that is able to fight for that 6th position on the table? 

Gennaro Gattuso is likely going to field the exact same squad from the Real Madrid supercup match in this match and I'm hoping that is indeed the case, because I am really curious if this setup actually has quality and if we actually win matches like this. 

Valencia CF squad: Mamardashvili; Correia, Comert, Cenk, Gaya; Lato, Musah, Almeida; Kluivert, Cavani, Lino.
Valencia CF formation: 4-4-2
Valencia CF tactics: High defensive line when attacking with two defenders covering at the back and Yunus falling back as well, serving as a defensive cover. Lato and Correia interchanging position as both can attack and defend. Mostly long crosses from the wings with generally shorter passes through the center of the field. Cavani positioned aggressively in the front, serving mostly as a static threat, while Lino running channels more and shifting position.
Match prediction: Valencia CF 3-1 UD Almeria
I think this is going to be a big win for Valencia CF, I think this setup has potential and the formation also serves these players, making it easier to defend and organize in the center. Defensively I don't think we can just improve instantly, so I still think we are likely to concede a goal, but I think offensively we are going to be much better and be able to score several goals, giving Valencia CF an easy win.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Valencia gets Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey

Valencia CF will face Athletic Bilbao in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. This was the best outcome Valencia CF could have hoped for as all other opponents, except for maybe Osasuna were much better. We avoided Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla and got an opponents that we have good chances of beating and continuing in the semifinals of the cup.

The match is scheduled for 25th of January, only two days after Valencia's league match against Almeria on the 23rd of January. 

Here are all of the draws for the Spanish Copa del Rey:
Real Madrid - Atl├ętico de Madrid
Osasuna - Sevilla FC
Valencia CF - Athletic Bilbao
Real Sociedad - Barcelona FC

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Valencia CF target midfielder Sergi Canos

Valencia CF have inquired about Brentford midfielder Sergi Canos. Valencia CF are willing to purchase the player for a sum of 1 million euros. Brentford will be okay with such a low sum because his contract expires this summer and getting any sum over losing his for free is a benefit. 

Canos transferred to Brentford in 2017, for whom he had previously played on loan from Liverpool during the 2015–16 season. He's made over 200 appearances for Brentford, but has struggled for playing time this season and with his contract running out this summer he could be on his way out. He's scored over 30 goals for Brentford and has played various positions from central midfielder to attacker. 

He is 25 years of age and has a lot more playing time in him, he is at that age where his prime is just beginning, so maybe he could return to form at Valencia CF. He is a versatile player and can cover multiple positions. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Sporting Gijon vs Valencia CF Copa Del Rey

Valencia CF has not had the best start to the new year with loss after loss, the latest one in the Super Cup at the feet of Real Madrid, not the end of the world loss, but it still stings. Valencia CF did show way better play and gave Real Madrid a hard time, in fact Valencia CF could have won the match if the finishing was a bit more precise. 

Sporting Gijon vs Valencia CF Match Preview

I think if Valencia CF shows such play in every league game we can probably challenge for European competition, but that the issue is our team has been very inconsistent. We can lose to the worst team in La Liga and then go on to beat a Barcelona or challenge Real Madrid and just barely lose. There is no consistency, something which I'm hoping Gattuso has addressed, and we see a good Valencia CF side against Sporting Gijon. 

Sporting Gijon are 15th place in the second division, so they are coming into this match as the underdog with Valencia CF the favorite, but anything is possible. Again, I'm hoping to see a stable and effective side tomorrow that easily dismantles Sporting Gijon, after all they are playing kind of poor football even for second division. Not quite relegation level football, but they are bottom of the pack with a lot of goals conceded and average number of goals scored. 

We are likely going to see several changes from the match against Real Madrid as Gattuso is likely to give other players some playing time and keep some of the better performing players like Andre Almeida and Cavani fresh for the league match against UD Almeria on the 23rd. 

Valencia CF squad: Cristian Rivero; Jesus Vazquez, Paulista, Diakhaby, Correia; Foulquier,  Hugo Guilamon, Illaix Moriba; Fran Perez, Hugo Duro, Marcos De Sousa.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Goncalo Guedes wants a return to Valencia CF

Goncalo Guedes is another option for Valencia CF to take on loan as Wolves have listed the player on the transfer market. They want to sell the player and recuperate some of the money they spent on him, but bidders are in short supply this transfer window as clubs have tightened their purses and are looking at cheaper options with Wolves wanting somewhere in the region of 25 to 30 million euros for Goncalo Guedes.

Another option would be for them to loan out the player in order for him to regain some of his market value and what better destination than Valencia CF where the player got his recognition from. Goncalo Guedes also wants a return to Valencia CF and Gattuso wants a winger to strengthen Valencia's attack and provide more cover for the position.

In case you haven't been following Guedes after his departure from Valencia CF, he hasn't celebrated himself at his new club, in fact it's been going really downhill for him. He started good enough for Wolves and he was a starter at the start of the season, but they weren't getting a lot of good results and Guedes had failed to provide many goals or assists and slowly but surely, he went out of favor with his initial coach. Bruno Lage was then fired due to a string of poor results, but this didn't change Guedes's fortune, he didn’t feature all that much under interim manager Steve Davis either. 

Things have become even worse under new manager Julen Lopetegui, with Guedes being substituted half time against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.  Guedes was left out of the squad for the matchday squad against West Ham United.