Coliseum Alfonso Perez, Madrid It seemed that Valencia were heading towards a draw once again amidst the wind and rain in south Madrid. There had been eight of them already for Los Che this season in the league, and considering that this was only match 12, the statistic is all the more remarkable. Their opponents and hosts Getafe have themselves drawn four matches so far, and it seemed almost inevitable that this affair would end all square.

That was until the 79th minute, when referee Señor Burgos Bengoetxea suddenly ran towards the near touchline. All inside the stadium were unsure of what was occurring, Bengoetxea had been summoned by VAR. He stood at the screen for what seemed like two seconds before turning on his heels and running back to where he’d just come from.

He motioned the TV screen with his hands, which is now the internationally recognised VAR symbol, and pointed to the penalty spot, blowing his whistle at the same time. It was awarded to Valencia. Their chance to take the lead beckoning, although they had their fair few already in a surprisingly attack-minded match. The foul, which VAR had deemed worthy of a review, was a pull back by Bruno, the Getafe centre-back, on Valencia substitute Kevin Gameiro as he stretched to latch onto a loose ball.

If truth were told, the decision looked slightly harsh. And the fact that Bruno was marching off the pitch only moments later as the referee issued him with a second yellow card, only made the heart sink that bit further given Getafe’s performance in the second half of the game especially. The ball was handed to captain Dani Parejo who, as he always seems to do, converted from the penalty spot for Los Che.

It was the goal and, ultimately, the three points that Valencia have been searching for since winning away at Real Sociedad back on September 29th in match day 7. A second league victory of the season had been coming; last weekend against Girona, a defensive mistake saw them lose by a single goal, whilst in Bilbao they had the better chances against Athletic Club but it ended goalless.

In front of goal, Valencia have struggled; before this weekend they had only scored seven goals in La Liga – that is fewer than every other team in the league, and even with the goal in this match accounted for, they still have the lowest goal tally. Five La Liga games without scoring and three goalless draws have resulted in Valenica starting the season in underwhelming fashion. Sitting in 15th place, currently this campaign resembles those under Gary Neville and Cesare Prandelli rather than the two most recent ones under Marcelino.

The high expectations of the Valencia fans means that the credit that Marcelino has earned thus far as coach will quickly ebb away if this win against Getafe is not built upon. Their performances have, on the whole, been rather stark to the high energy ones that were displayed only a few months ago. It is a test of Marcelino’s coaching acumen as to how he pulls Valencia back to where they are expected to be, competing for a top-four place – or even, given the open nature of this season, the title.

And yet this season has not been entirely dreadful. The midweek win against Young Boys of Switzerland in the Champions League by three goals to one showed that Los Che are capable of scoring – albeit the opposition was of a limited nature. The result has given Valencia an opportunity of progression from what seemed like a very difficult group for them to navigate. In theory, the group will go down to the last match at Mestalla between Valencia and Manchester United with Juventus taking top-spot. Considering that Marcelino’s men managed a draw – yes, of course it was goalless– at Old Trafford, they will have confidence that they can match United once again on home turf.

Another positive to come from the early weeks of the season has been the emergence of Santi Mina as ‘the fashionable man of Valencia’ as journalist Javier Hernandez wrote during the week. At Getafe, he was returning to the stadium that he made his league debut at in 2013 for Celta Vigo aged just 17. Seven months later he became the youngest goalscorer in the first division of Spanish football – the record still stands today.

There was no surprise when Valencia paid his release clause of €10M in 2015 having grew up under the stewardship of Luis Enrique in Vigo. There is also little surprise that he is now becoming a heavily relied upon player for Los Che. Keeping Gameiro (bought for €16M in the summer from Atletico Madrid) and Mitshyi Batshuayi (on loan from Chelsea but with a market value of €40M) out of the team is no easy feat but Mina is managing it.

His ambition to succeed is noticeable – he has a tattoo of himself as a child on the back of his right calf with the caption of “Never stop fighting” – and considering that he has played over 150 league appearances already aged only 22, as well as featuring for all Spanish national team age groups, he has already achieved a fair amount too. He scored two of the goals against Young Boys last week and saved his team from making a fool of themselves in the Copa by scoring twice against Ebro of the third division (1-2).

Mina is increasingly the attacker that Marcelino is placing his trust in, despite not scoring yet in the league. His impact cutting in from the left has caused defences problems and his link up play with Rodrigo has been eye-catching, but the goalscoring threat that Simone Zaza – now departed – offered Valencia in recent seasons is still up for grabs.

The style of Valencia has been different this season. Marcelino is obsessive about his players’ fitness and demands every inch from them in practice and during matches. Some say that his approach takes too much from his players and burns them out to maintain the high standard that is set initially. The work that Marcelino has already done since arriving at Los Che should be valued and there is no doubt that he is a high-quality coach. But there has been growing frustrations that this season is yet to start for Valencia and that now with over a quarter of the season played, the campaign is somewhat passing them by.

At the Coliseum, there were signs that Valencia’s season is starting to rise from the partial ruins that it found itself in. The match was tight, but expansive; the ball seemed to move from end-to-end and back again. Both sides had good goalscoring chances inside the opening 12 minutes. Rodrigo forced a save from David Soria – who continued his impressive form in the Getafe net – whilst Cabrera could not provide a fruitful touch to Jorge Molina’s header across goal following a corner.

There were some remarks made in the build-up to this match concerning last season’s encounter which Valenica lost because of “a rotten pitch and physical approach”. Marcelino claimed pre-match that “Getafe have an identity and it’s difficult to beat.” There is, however, bad blood between Marcelino and Getafe after his wife tweeted “Work done, we leave you in the first” when it was accused that his Villarreal side lost purposely against Sporting Gijon on the final day of the season in 2016 to save his hometown club from relegation and consequently sent Getafe down to Segunda.

This only added to the intensity of the match that saw both sides having the same number of attempts on target (3). Valencia did have the better quality chances and could have been ahead earlier had Soria not been in the form that he has been of late. The Getafe goalkeeper saved with a strong right-hand as Rodrigo attempted to finish off a speedy Valencian counter-attack. The hosts did have their own chances, and even struck the post through Molina a mere ten seconds into the second half.

As the game began to settle during the second half and the draw became increasingly inevitable, VAR intervened and presented Valencia with their golden chance. It remains to be seen whether this will ignite Los Che’s La Liga season with matches against other Madrid clubs – Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid – in the weeks succeeding the forthcoming international break. It was, nonetheless, Valencia’s second victory of the season and it had been a long time in coming.

Los Otros Puntos

By 6.00pm on Saturday evening we’d only had one goal from two and a quarter games of La Liga action – and that was Valencia’s. But then in the following hour, we got five in an extraordinary match. Inaki Williams had given Athletic Bilbao the lead twice against Atletico Madrid but the hosts pegged them back on both occasions thanks to goals form Thomas Partey and Rodri. In the 91st minute, an injured Diego Godin – who had pulled a leg muscle earlier in the match, but with Diego Simeone having already made three substitutions was forced to continue – found himself in the right place at the right time to force the ball home following a Partey free-kick. “Atletico win heroically!” proclaimed Marca whilst Diario AS’s headline ran “Pegleg’s goal!” It was harsh on Athletic but what a match!

Leo Messi returned but could not prevent a first home league defeat for Barcelona in over two years. This was the Real Betis that graced La Liga last term: speedy, energetic and entertaining. Quique Setien’s side took a 2-0 lead into the break with goals from Junior Firpo and Joaquin, the returning Messi, however, pulled one back from the penalty spot midway through the second period. It was then a case of ‘you score, we score’ as Giovani Lo Celso saw his shot slip through the hands of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Arturo Vidal then reduced the deficit before Sergio Canales expanded it again. Messi did get a second in stoppage time but Betis saw it through. Ivan Rakitic was awarded a red card amidst the manic final 20 minutes but La Blaugrana remain top.

Should he stay, or should he go? That is the question facing the Real Madrid board concerning Santi Solari as his time as temporary coach comes to an end. Four successive wins suggest that he should remain at least until the end of the season; he has given the side what they were lacking…confidence. Ultimately the decision lies with Florentino Perez.

Alaves are remarkable! Their 7th win of the season takes them into fourth place.

Whilst Espanyol are unlucky!

Los Resultados

Levante 1-3 Real Sociedad

Valladolid 0-0 Eibar

Getafe 0-1 Valencia

Atletico Madrid 3-2 Athletic Bilbao

Girona 0-0 Leganes

Alaves 2-1 Huesca

Barcelona 3-4 Real Betis

Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Villarreal

Sevilla 2-1 Espanyol

Celta Vigo 2-4 Real Madrid

La Clasificación

Valencia Getafe La Liga Tactical analysis Statistics