Valencia 2-3 Real Madrid

Posted: December 23, 2013 in La Liga
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In a fixture that has always produced goals, this game was no different than the others before. Real Madrid became the first team to win five consecutive games at the Mestalla and Valencia will feel very much hard done by regarding the final result. Looking at a result without watching the game will almost always gave you a false inkling of what happened – be it a team “struggling” against or “destroying” another – but looking at last night’s result and assuming that Real Madrid struggled would actually be a correct assumption because they did.

Line-ups

Despite starting up as a 4-2-3-1, Real Madrid were constantly switching to a 4-3-3 when defending and this could be used as an argument for why Isco wasn’t at his best last night. Isco has been maligned for his performances in a 4-3-3 due to his poor defensive contributions and the restrictions to his game; he thrives off playing in a 4-2-3-1, which he did at times last night, because it allows him to drift out to the wings when Di Maria or Ronaldo cut inside. Nacho paired Ramos at centre-back due to Pepe and Raphael Varane’s injuries whilst Angel Di Maria came in for the injured Gareth Bale.

Credit to MARCA for the image

Credit to MARCA for the image

Valencia lined up with a 4-2-3-1 which remained static throughout the game. Romeu paired Parejo in the pivot which, up until this game, had been quite a good pairing in the final weeks of Djukic’s management. Nico Estevez, the stand-in manager, didn’t experiment much and just let the players do the talking on the pitch. It worked to an extent.

Mellow first-half in comparison to end-to-end second-half

The game started with Real Madrid looking to dictate the tempo of the game and hold onto the ball for a prolonged time; they were successful in doing so. The first chance of the game fell to Ronaldo in the 17th minute whose wayward shot would forgive Romeu for the Spaniard’s awfully misplaced pass which triggered the Real Madrid counter. Xabi Alonso spent most of the opening 20 minutes deep into his own half, almost as a 3rd centre-back, in order to exploit the space being given to Marcelo – Alonso sprayed some impeccable, yet patented cross-field passes to Marcelo who would look to instigate attacks on the counter for Real Madrid.

Di Maria stole the show for Real Madrid as he came in to replace Bale, due to injury. Starting out on the right, Di Maria drew Bernat and Piatti close to him and combined a feint touch with a darting run to skin the two and rifle a shot in towards the far-post from a tight-ish angle. Bernat was at fault for this goal as he allowed Di Maria to cut into his stronger foot instead of forcing him wide; another player at fault could be Piatti who probably should have stuck tighter to his fellow Countryman.

Di Maria celebrates the opening goal (credit to Real Madrid CF for image)

Di Maria celebrates the opening goal (credit to Real Madrid CF for image)

Valencia would remain sloppy in possession for the entirety of the half – Romeu the main culprit – and Real Madrid would quickly pounce on these errors.

Four minutes later and Valencia found themselves celebrating a goal from Piatti. The Argentine scored his first league goal of the season and, to top that, it was finished with his head. The smallest player in La Liga, unmarked with Ramos ball watching, scored a header. Bernat’s cross was executed with the perfect pace and pin-point accuracy This is where Ramos’ poor game began. A couple of minutes later, Jonas was allowed to wriggle into the box, turn, take two touches and lash a shot at goal. Nacho bailed Ramos out this time as he should’ve been the one marking Jonas.

Only 12 minutes after Di Maria’s wonder goal and controversy had hit the Mestalla following a Ronaldo header from a sumptuous Di Maria free-kick. Why was it controversial? The foul leading to the free-kick shouldn’t have been given and Ronaldo was a foot offside. Regardless, the goal counted and Valencia were 2-1 down with six minutes to go of the half. Ronaldo scoring his 27th goal of the season and his 184th league goal for Los Merengues.

The first-half ended 1-2 and Valencia fans were quietly optimistic having seen how shambolic Real Madrid’s defence is. Estevez’s team-talk must have been inspiring because Valencia came out all guns blazing and were outplaying the away side for large chunks of the half. Bernat continuously opened up space for himself on the left-hand side and kept skinning Arbeloa in order to ping more balls into the box. 17 minutes into the 2nd half and Bernat’s incredible run past three players led to a Valencia corner; Parejo’s delivery was great and Mathieu rose the highest to meet the ball and head it past Lopez. Ramos, again, not tight enough to Mathieu and reacted far too slow to even challenge Mathieu. Mathieu scored his 1st goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

Mathieu celebrates the equaliser (credit to Valencia CF for the image)

Mathieu celebrates the equaliser (credit to Valencia CF for the image)

Real Madrid only did anything of note in the 70th minute when Ronaldo rounded Guaita and missed. Luckily for him he was offside. Ronaldo also found himself tracking back and helping out in defence as Valencia threatened to score another goal. Isco would be replaced, with 17 minutes to go, by Jese Rodriguez. Isco was furiously whistled off by Valencia fans (ex-player) and even Real Madrid fans who were unsatisfied with his performance.

Valencia continued creating chances and became wasteful. This was a recurring theme throughout the second-half as Valencia just grew and grew in confidence until it was eventually killed off with eight minutes to go. Jese picked up the ball in the box, unmarked with Guardado ball watching, and lashed a shot at the near-post. Guaita made a mess of it and was beaten. All of Valencia’s hard work was undone by a silly mistake at the near-post by a goalkeeper who is prone to the odd mistake. Journalists everywhere type up the words “super-sub” as Jese celebrates in a massive team huddle as Ancelotti urged his players not to get complacent.

AS headline 'Jese,  golden goal'. Jese celebrates with team-mates (credit to AS for the image)

AS headline ‘Jese,
golden goal’. Jese celebrates with team-mates (credit to AS for the image)

The game ended and Valencia exited the Mestalla empty-handed. A harsh result considering how much they dominated Real Madrid in the 2nd half. Real Madrid were awful on the night but having individuals capable of scoring whenever will almost always win you games that you otherwise wouldn’t with a team, say, like Valencia’s.

Di Maria

A few words are needed on Di Maria following that excellent performance. This is a player who is reacting very well to healthy competition with Bale. Six goals and seven assists  show how decisive and important he is when he gets his chance to start for Real Madrid. He was quoted, last night, saying “In the summer they tried to get me out all the time: they knew a 100m euro player was coming and that he would play. I’m not thinking of going, the manager knows that.” This quote further enforces the idea that Di Maria is actually enjoying having competition as he was given the chance to leave in the summer. Many teams will be interested in him but it’s important that Real Madrid hold onto him as someone who can win them games off the bench and be a star player when in the initial 11.

Bernat

Bernat was very impressive last night and, this season, has fully cemented his first-team spot after some good performances last season. His ability to operate anywhere on the left-flank is very handy for Valencia because they have someone whose defensive nous is as good as his attacking, be it as a left-winger or left-back. It’s important that Valencia build the team around this boy from the cantera (academy) as he could very well be the next gem unearthed at the Mestalla.

Ramos

It has to be mentioned that Ramos has been beyond woeful this season. Two mistakes leading to two goals last night pile onto his misery. He seems to be suffering from the same problem as Pique: constant rotation of the centre-back partner and no-one pushing him for his place. Ramos has played alongside Nacho, Pepe and Varane this season. He has struggled to cement a partnership with either one and has therefore not been able adjust his game. Ramos also has no-one pushing him for his spot. If Real Madrid had someone of similar quality pairing him and then Varane pushing for a first-team spot, both he and his partner are less likely to become complacent and will perform at an extremely high level. With the World Cup coming up for Spain it’s quite scary that both Pique and Ramos, the two first-choice centre-backs, are suffering from the exact same problem and putting in dreadful club performances.

Peter Lim, Valencia’s new buyer

Valencia, before yesterday’s game, confirmed that a Singaporean businessman worth circa $1.2bn was going to buy the club. Bankia, who deal with the club’s debt, are set to reply and finalise the deal before the end of the January transfer window. Lim tried to buy Liverpool in 2010 but was rejected. Here is what Lim promises the club:

  • Pay off all of Valencia’s debts.
  • Finalise the new stadium in 2 years.
  • Make funds available for squad additions including 30-40m euros in January.

Lim was supposedly attracted by the club’s social projects, including the building of schools around the world. 

Whilst Valencia fans are purring at the idea of their club becoming financially stable, one can’t help but remember Malaga’s injection of money which has now led to an unimaginable amount of debt. Here’s hoping that it works out well for them!

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Comments
  1. A great read, enjoyed it!

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