Valencia CF have beaten Leganas 3-0 at home to keep up the pace behind top of the league Barcelona, onto 27 points from 11 games, thanks to goals from Dani Parejo, Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina from the spot.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the loyal fans that fill out the iconic Estadio Mestalla every week to watch their beloved Los Che. Valencia have had 12 different managers since the start of the 2012-13 season. This outlines some of the difficulties the club have faced financially, with the construction of a new stadium beginning before it was scrapped due to the inability to afford it.
From zeroes to heroes
Over the past two years, Valencia fans have been watching behind their white handkerchiefs of disgust, a signal of unrest in groups of supporters. The majority of fans do not approve of how the club is being run.
Current Wolves manager and former Porto manager Nuno Espirito Santo looked to have brought back the good times in the 2014-15 season. He lead the club to the Champions League group stage. Nuno also brought through some excellent youth players to the first team such as Jose Gaya, Paco Alcacer, and Andre Gomes. Those three players starred in a team of experience, with captain Dani Parejo having one of his best seasons in a Valencia shirt.
Nuno’s biggest impact was on Valencia’s defence, which has leaked goals since his departure in November 2015. He brought in someone who had worked for him in the past, Nicolas Otamendi, who not only solidified the defence with his warrior-like defending but added goals, notching an impressive four strikes. He left for Manchester City a year left, however, and his partner at the back Shkodran Mustafi made the move to another Premier League side, Arsenal, one year later.
Return to the Champions League
After reaching the Champions League with a final day of the season win against Almeria, who were subsequently relegated, the club struggled to reach the same heights as the previous season. They finished third in their Champions League group, with Nuno resigning before they even completed their six group games, and the surprise hiring of Gary Neville as manager only made the club a laughing stock, especially as he did not speak the language. Neville won none of his first nine league games and before he could even pick up the Spanish language, he was sacked. They were hammered 7-0 by Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Copa Del Rey and with the club 14th in the league, just six points from safety, Neville was fired on March 30th, with just 3 wins from 16 games, failing to keep a single clean sheet.
One of the club’s coaching staff Pako Eyesteran was given the unenviable task of managing the club until the end of the season, guiding them to 12th position. Eyesteran was given the job for the following season, but could not keep hold of key players Paco Alcacer, the top scorer for the club in the last two seasons, and highly rated Andre Gomes. Both moved to Barcelona in big money moves, leaving two huge voids in the starting 11. Eyesteran was again not given the time by the club’s owners, who fired him just one month into the season.
Next up in the hot seat was former Italy manager Cesare Prandelli, who as per the previous managers at Valencia, did not last long. He had previously taken Italy to the final of Euro 2012, but left his post just ten games in, with the club fighting a battle against relegation.
Voro steadies the ship
Club legend Voro, who was born in and played for Valencia for 9 years, took charge of his beloved club, who were suffering one of the worst spells in their history. he played for the club in the club’s golden era in the 90’s where, they reached consecutive European cup finals. This was the fifth occasion with which he had been caretaker manager, and he guided them to 12th in the league.
This season however, Valencia fans have enjoyed a fantastic start to the campaign from their side, sitting pretty in second position with 27 points from 11 games. They are just one point behind table topping Barcelona, and seven points ahead of last seasons Champions Real Madrid, albeit having played a game more. They are averaging just under 3 goals a game and the additions of Italian striker Simone Zaza, Goncalo Guedes (on loan from PSG) and ex Juventus ‘keeper Neto have helped them to return to the right end of the La Liga table, where they belong.
Los Che begun the season with a solid 1-0 win at home to UD Las Palmas, in former Villarreal manager Marcelino’s first game in charge. He had previously guided the yellow submarine to the Champions League a couple of seasons prior, and will believe he can achieve the same feat this season with his new club.
This win was followed by 3 consecutive draws, although two were against Real Madrid (at the Bernabau) and at home to Atletico Madrid. Valencia went behind at the Bernabau, before a goal from the next big thing out of their effervescent academy Carlos Soler drew the sides level.
Los Che climb to second
That run of draws has been followed by a purple patch of 8 straight wins in all competitions, scoring 28, yes, TWENTY-EIGHT goals in the process. Two of the top four league goalscorer this season are Valencia players. Simone Zaza has nine goals this, including a hat-trick which really kickstarted his career at the Mestalla, having been on loan last season, scoring 6 goals in 20 games.
The Key Men
Rodrigo Moreno, a player who showed huge promise from Benfica, one of Valencia’s affiliate clubs, had never reached the heights that were expected of him when they signed him for over £20 million. This season though, his 7 goals and 3 assists have earned him a Spain call up, which he also marked with a sublime strike.
Young Portuguese winger, also a former Benfica man, was signed last year by PSG after impressing for his hometown club, but failed to nail down a place in the starting 11 before Neymar was signed, and he new he had to find game time. Since his loan move to Valencia, he has been a star turn in an exciting young team that has blitzed La Liga defences. Guedes has 3 goals and 5 assists, and his 3 goals are all to savour. His first came in a 6-3 victory at Real Betis, where he made it two nil with a stunning strike from 30 years out, clipping the underside of the bar as it went in.
Next up Valencia faced Sevilla at home in what is always a huge game between two of Spain’s biggest club sides after Real Madrid and Barca. Guedes was on fire in that fixture, cutting inside to fire into the far corner just outside the box to put his side one up just before the break. He set up Santi Mina with a well weighted pass before chipping past Sevilla ‘keeper Sergio Rico in stoppage time to secure a 4-0 win.
Carlos Soler is another player who deserves a special mention with a goal and 4 assists this season. Soler was introduced the Valencia fans midway through last season by Voro, and earned a call-up to Spain’s U21 side this year.
Valencia travel to Espanyol next before facing Barcelona in a huge game where their title credentials will be tested, in a game all Valencia fans are looking forward to at the Mestalla, where the fans are sure to create an intimidating atmosphere for the stars of Barcelona.
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