Sports
VALENCIA FOOTBALL… BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!

#Due to the World Cup qualifying matches for the European National teams taking two weeks out of the November football calendar, Valencia only played three games this month, all ending in draws.
The first one, against Atlético Madrid was the match of the season so far. It ended in a scintillating 3-3 draw. For many Valencia supporters it felt like a win, as Los Che scored two goals in injury time to rescue a point.

Valencia headed into the game on the back of a victory against local rivals Villarreal, whilst Atlético arrived at the Mestalla stinging from the loss to Liverpool at Anfield in the Champions League a few days earlier.

The team from the capital struck first, with Luis Suárez opening the scoring just after the half hour mark to give the visitors the lead going into the interval.

Valencia then levelled early in the second half through a Stefan Savić own goal. Griezmann then put the Colchoneros back in front with a fantastic solo goal that was worth the admission price alone, and then the visitors substitute Šime Vrsaljko added a third to dampen the home fans spirits even further.

With the last throw of the dice, Bordalás made three substitutes with four minutes of normal time remaining, Duro, Koba Koindredi and Manu Vallejo entered the fray. Two minutes into injury time, Duro found the net, slashing home a fantastic Gayà cross that gave Oblak absolutely no chance, to set up a grandstand finish.

With virtually the last kick of the game Duro, clinically latched onto a Guedes free kick with his head… to squeeze the ball into the net at the unmanned near post and send the home fans into raptures.

The never-say-die attitude that was evident in the Mallorca game at the Mestalla once again surfaced, and proved crucial in salvaging something from a game that seemed lost.

Valencia nearly scored with the last piece of action in their next match in San Sebastián. Jose Luis Gayà was close to getting the vital touch to a Soler free kick that it nearly crept inside the far post.

A point in a goal less stalemate against Real Sociedad at the Anoeta is always a notable achievement, and the defensive partnership of Alderete and Diakhaby looked secure and in control at the back. Whenever they were breached, Cillessen looked composed and assured in goal for Los Che.

Valencia’s most recent game was against the unfashionable Rayo Vallecano. The team from the Vallecas barrio of Madrid play an attractive brand of football and continue to punch above their weight in La Liga.

An early goal for Valencia came in the shape of a penalty converted by Carlos Soler. The home side squandered several chances to double their lead and paid the price when Palazón restored parity in the second period of play.

As Valencia pressed for the winning goal, Rayo had some promising counter attacks that should have resulted in a goal on a least one occasion. Most fans will consider this two points dropped. The constant drawing of home games at the Mestalla is becoming a thorn in any form of progress.

Four out of the last five matches that Valencia have hosted have been draws and with their form away from home continuing to be worrisome, the team needs to be obtaining three points from home matches on a more regular basis.

Copa Del Rey action starts in December with Los Che visiting Teruel for a match up against Utrillas. Levante UD have to travel to the Spanish enclave of Melilla and take on the side Huracán CF.The trip to North Africa caps off a bad few weeks for the club in the North of the city, who are rock bottom of the La Liga table and now searching for their third manager of the season.

First Paco López was relieved of his duties after failing to win any of the initial eight games of the league campaign, and now Javier Pereira Megía has followed suit, after going winless during his tenure of seven games.

Assistant staff Manolo Salvador, David Navarro and Manual Fajardo also left their positions at the same time as Pereira. Alessio Lisci, the current trainer of Atlético Levante UD, the reserve team of the club, will be the interim coach until a permanent manager can be found.

Finally, players from both clubs participated in the World Cup qualifiers throughout November. Carlos Soler and Jose Luis Gayà were in the squad that beat Sweden, in the multi-purpose built Estadio de la Cartuja in Sevilla, to seal top spot in Group B and a place in the finals in Qatar.

Soler started the game and Gayà was an unused substitute, and barring injuries and a sudden dip in form, both should be on the plane to Doha.

Another player almost certain to be there is Daniel Wass. The likeable Dane started their match in Scotland at Hampden Park. Denmark had already qualified, having won all nine of their previous games in Group F before the Scotland contest. A resurgent Scottish team scored a 2-0 victory in a game that was of little consequence to the Scandinavians.

Gonçalo Guedes and his Portuguse side still have work to do if they are to join Spain and Denmark in the finals. Spain’s Iberian neighbours lost at home to group winners Serbia in the last game of the group phases which sent Serbia automatically through to Qatar. Portugal now have to get into the competition via the play off system. First, they will have to overcome Turkey, and then beat either Italy or North Macedonia to advance to the next stage.

Levante’s Enis Bhardi is likely to line up for the Eastern Europeans in Rome next March. Due to the draw, one of the football powerhouses of Italy or Portugal will not be gracing the World Cup stage next year.

A tournament minus a Ronaldo or a Jorginho would undoubtedly have a negative impact on travelling spectators, something that is already an apprehension to many fans, amid concerns about the ongoing Covid situation, and Qatar’s poor long standing history on human rights issues.

Article by John Howden
Article Copyright ’24/7 Valencia’

Valencia CF matches
Utrillas v Valencia Copa del Rey Dec 2 19.30h
Celta Vigo v Valencia La Liga Dec 5 21.00h
Valencia v Elche La Liga Dec 11 18.30h
Levante v Valencia La Liga Dec 20 21.00h
Valencia v Espanyol La Liga Dec 31 16.15h

Levante UD matches
Hurácan Melilla Copa del Rey Dec 2 19.00h
Levante v Osasuna La Liga Dec 5 18.30h
Espanyol v Levante La Liga Dec 11 14.00h
Levante v Valencia La Liga Dec 20 21.00h
Villarreal v Levante La Liga Jan 3 19.00h

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