We all know that Valencia have not been going through...
E. Frankfurt 4-2 Valencia CF
In Valencia’s last training match before the new season starts, Los Che went back where they began it, in Germany. This time the opposition was serious, as newly promoted, but historically distinguished Eintracht Frankfurt were the opposition.
Pellegrino fielded a highly experimental starting lineup. Mosty because of finjury, and partly to rest key players before the league opener at Santiago Bernabeu. Soldado, who most likely will miss that match, was replaced with Piatti. Jonas also were excluded because of physical problems, though he probably is fit for the real action against Real Madrid. Guardado were absent because of his upcoming national team duty, and Joao were simply rested. That meant Barragan started on right back.
More serious is the achilles injury of Jeremy Mathieu, and since Valencia is yet to land a deal with a prominent left back to replace Jordi Alba, everyone were anxious to see how Pellegrino dealt with that for this encounter. His answer was again testing the cantera players, and Salva Ruiz got he nod.
In addition the central defence was unlike former matches as Adil Rami (who’s just recovered from a small injury) and Delgado (cantera) formed the partnership.
In the double pivot Dani Parejo was paired with veteran Albelda, while newcomer Jonathan Viera got he creative central midfield further up.
Interrestingly, Bernat was selected as left midfielder, while Pablo started right.
Diego Alves was obvious for the goalkeeper spot, since Guaita also is troubled physically.
After a tame start, the home team took command, and exploited some poor passing and indecisiveness from Valencia’s midfield. First, the home team failed to exploit the space they got because of poor accuracy. But after 19 minutes, Eintracht opened the scoring through a header from Aigner after a cross from Inui. Barragan failed to press the latter properly, and Delgado was thoroughly beaten in the air. This was a taster of how insecure Valencia’s defence were.
Just two minutes later, it was 2-0. A set piece was lobbed into the area, and Diego Alves half-missed his punched clearance. Inai, who was Eintracht’s best player in the first half, fired a half-volley, which then luckily went into the chest of team-mate Occean and into the far post.
Valencia had yet to create a chance, and seemed to lack the muscles to do so when Viera and Piatti played a triangle which sent the latter through. The tiny Argentinian finished directly with a hard, low shot which went under the goalkeeper and into the net.
In the minutes after Valencia showed really good attacking play, where especially Viera, Pablo and Piatti were active. The best Valencia player of the day, Jonathan Viera, almost equalized before half time with a fine shot that seemed to curl in by the left post, but Eintracht’s goalkeeper made a massive save to keep it out.
A bit surprisingly, none of the teams made any changes for the second half, which continued as the first half ended ; with Valencia dominating midfield.
Piatti almost hit his second of the day, but again Trapp managed to evade the equalizer. Instead it was Pablo who got the honour.
Valencia robbed the ball high up, and countered with three against two defenders. After a great touch by Piatti, Vier aset up Pablo, who fired a low piledriver into the far corner in the 53rd minute
It then seemed like it was inevitable that Valencia would score the third, and turn around the match. Parejo made several great passes to the men up front, and the home team seemed to fall apart.
But after 63 minutes, Eintracht again showed their physical superiority on a set piece. Aigner prolonged a cross to Occean, which had an easy task putting his second on the back post.
Right after the goal, Eintracht subbed no fewer than 6(!) players in one og, and among them was their star striker Hoffer. Pellegrino, however, took Viera off, probably to save him for the next match.
Those substitutions changed the character of the match, and Valencia could no longer dominate play as before. Eintracht again found lots of space on their right side, and it was a cross from there that found Hoffer unattented on the back post. He made no mistakes.
With just 10 minutes left, Pellegrino took out a poor Rami, and replaced him with cantera player Quintanilla, while Paco and Feghouli also got a few minutes. Apart from a hard shot from Soso which went over the bar, Valencia were unable to sweeten the scoreline.
Pellegrino was, as mentioned, tied down to few alternatives for the lineup, and also showed with his substitutions that winning the match wasn’t a priority. And as pre-season matches goes, one shouldn’t put to much importance to the loss.
But it was very concerning to see the sloppy defensive play, where the youngsters didn’t impress at all, and where more routined players like Rami and Albelda seemed sadly out of form.
Valencia lacked sting on the flanks too, mostly because both sidebacks were mediocre. That was just as well, since Piatti had no chance to outjump the huge Germans in the box.
Time and again, Valencia were caught out by a counterattacking home team. Albelda and Barragan especially failed to neutralize Inui in the first half, which made the Japanese playmaker set up both of Eintracht’s first two goals.
But if the defensive display was abysmal, the attacking play was reassuring to say the least. Especially Viera was brilliant. He was always confident and precise, and assisted both of Valencia’s goals.
His partnership with Piatti and Pablo gave the German defence a lot of headaches.
Parejo also had a good match, showing both some entertaining ball control, and spot on long passes. Unfortunately, he still looks to poor defensively to become a real challenge to a fit Banega.
Juan Bernat had some good moments, but it was also apparent he is still young, and have to be matched slowly, as his performance was too variable.
Goalkeeper Diego Alves didn’t have his best day at work, but apart from a poor clearance, he can’t be blamed for the goals against.
It’s not too much to learn from this match, as expected. Much more important is what
Braulio can do in the transfer market before the window closes, where a decent left back is crucial before the season starts. Apart from that, Mourinho should be a bit concerned about a possible emerging star in Viera.