Monday, November 27, 2017

Valencia’s return

I have been happy to see Valencia back where they belong, namely among the top of the Spanish league. After some hapless years with a stream of managers and players who did not perform, things seem to have stabilized under manager Marcelino, and three of the new players are surely becoming the revelation signings of the season: Goncalo Guedes is on loan from PSG, where he has no chance of replacing Neymar. But he is a talented youngster who has flowered in Valencia, and is now surely eyed by the biggest clubs in Europe.
Geoffrey Kondogbia was considered a huge talent when he started, but he faded a bit during his time at Inter, and was surely hoping to get attention again. And he certainly has: he fit perfectly into the Valencia midfield, where he has turned into a dynamo of energy, with running and tackes, as well as a fantastic overview of the field. Also on loan from Inter, they may look to get him back next season.
The Italian striker Simone Zaza was on loan from West Ham last season, and although he did not overly impress Valencia used the buy-out clause. This has proven to be very wise: with nine goals he is currently second, only to Lionel Messi, on the Spanish top scoring list, and looks highly motivated to give many more goals.
While these three players have stood out as new players, others, such as Jose Gaya, Rodrigo and Dani Parejo are also flourishing, and I just hope Valencia is able to keep onto all these players for the next few seasons at least.
Today Valencia, second in the league, played the league leaders FC Barcelona in what was a true test on whether Valencia are in the right direction. After a difficult first half (where Messi had a correct goal annulled, strengthening the call for video referees, something I have always thought was necessary) they put better pressure on the Catalonians in the second half, and even went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Rodrigo, following good combinations of the left side, where Guedes was giving Umtiti problems throughout the second half.
But Jordi Alba managed to equalize for Barcelona following a fantastic pass from Lionel Messi, and the match ended 1-1 despite Valencia getting close to scoring a second in the end. While this does not change the positions at the top of the league, there can be no doubt that Valencia intends to fight for the top, and maybe, probably too much to hope for, even a title....
Let us dream!