Every player loves to play for their country and at Valencia they have numerous players that inevitably get the call up to represent their nation when these matches come around. For the club itself, it becomes a double-edged sword as it brings accolades and additional media exposure to promote Valencia on and off the field, but often this will be at the expense of the internationals returning with niggling injuries and short-term fatigue that may also linger on well into the business end of the season. This time around, Valencia had more highs and lows for their players but still did not evade the customary problem as a result of a cluster of International matches being played mid-March.

The biggest disappointment for Los Che was the fact José Luis Gayà could not add to his caps for La Selección after hobbling off the pitch in the Villarreal game. He had to pull out of two matches in Spain against Colombia and Brazil and was replaced by the former Getafe and Brighton star, Marc Cucurella who is currently plying his trade at Chelsea. Five of Valencia’s promising youngsters also got call ups for their respective age groups. Christhian Mosquera, Fran Pérez, Diego Lopez and Javi Guerra joined up with the Spanish Under-21 squad, whilst Yarek Gasiorowski received a request to play for the Under-19 team.

All four players in the Under-21 squad had some playing time in the friendly loss to Slovakia, a match in which Spain used 22 players creating a result that was more academic than telling. The main contest of their two back –to-back games was their next match against Belgium, which was a European Under-21 qualifier.

Spain took that game much more seriously and beat the Junior Red Devils by the solitary goal in Almeria in front of a crowd of just under 6000 spectators. Mosquera and Diego López started for the Spanish and Fran Pérez came on midway through the second half. However, it was Javi Guerra who set up the assist two minutes from time… for Fernández to give his side a precious three points, despite only having ten minutes on the field of play.

Spain are top of Group B, three points ahead of both Scotland and Belgium although the latter have played a game more than these opponents. Hungary, Kazakhstan and Malta complete the group.

Gasiorowski had the busiest schedule on paper, with the Spanish Under-19 side having three games inside six days. All were European qualifying matches, the first ended in a 1-1 draw with Slovenia, followed by two victories by the same score line (2-1) against Kosovo and Austria respectively.

Yarek played in the matches against Slovenia and Austria and, as a result of the seven points, they gained they finished top of the three match table. The draw will take place on 17th of April in Belfast when Spain will find out their fate, and Northern Ireland will host the event from the 15th to the 28th of July.

Two other players heading to the finals with their senior teams are Roman Yaremchuk and Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Yaremchuk saw his Ukranian team come from behind to beat Iceland in Warsaw 2-1 to give the people of the war-torn country something to cheer about. The Lviv born stiker led the line in a 4-5-1 formation until being substituted in the 73rd minute.

Also, the Valencia goalkeeper Mamardashvili secured a place in the finals with Georgia after winning out in a penalty eliminator with Greece. The feisty encounter had ended in a goal less stalemate after 120 minutes, but the Eastern Europeans with the Tbilisi crowd urging them on won 4-2 on spot kicks. Their reward is a place in Group F with match ups against Portugal, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

In the finals in Germany, Mamardsashvili is likely to line up with his Levante countryman Giorgi Kochorashvili against Cenk Ozcaker, the Los Che defender from who represents Turkey.

The Turks had already booked their place in the finals by topping a group that included Croatia and Wales. They used the space on the calendar to play two away fixtures against Hungary and Austria. Cenk did not play in the first game which his team lost 1-0, but he was a starter in the match versus Austria. He did not see out the ninety minutes and was substituted before the end, in what was an unflattering 6-1 defeat for the Turks.

Reports suggest that all the players that participated in the internationals have arrived back at the Mestalla injury- free. Hopefully, the poor showing at Villarreal  prior to the enforced La Liga break has given the team the opportunity to reflect on that performance.

The players who have had a two-week hiatus should have been sufficiently revved up to put in the performance required against Mallorca, and it had been hoped that the ones who have played football in the last few days could keep the momentum going for the full ninety minutes against the islanders, without tiredness or fatigue creeping in by the end of the game. As it happened, it was a very drab and uninteresting affair as both teams cancelled each other out in midfield, with very little goalmouth action. The biggest cheers of the day came from the Valencia fans when Toni Lato got a run out as a substitute for Mallorca. Whatever the reason for the lacklustre performance it is a worry, especially as a short while ago the team were putting together some good results and creeping up the La Liga table.

Meanwhile, the reverse seems to be happening in the northeast of the city as Levante UD seem to be back on track for a promotion push. They had a super result recently against their Valencian neighbours Elche, from the south of the comunidad. Two goals down, they came back to win with the deciding goal converted in the fourth minute of injury time by Dani Gómez.

Two draws at Burgos and Valladolid followed in their most recent games which feel more like points won, and consequently, they remain heavily involved for a promotion play off place, especially with three of their next four games being at the Ciutat de València.

Finally, the Mestalla will be in use on Friday April 5th when the Valencia legends play the La Liga legends. The initiative is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Valencia’s successes in 2004. Players from that era like Ruben Baraja, Vicente Rodriguez, Rufete and David Albelda will don their boots one more time and grace the Mestalla against some La Liga counterparts from that period in time.

Marco Senna, Juan Fran and Javier Saviola are some of the names that have been announced on the opposing team, with Jose Antonio Camacho on coaching duties. Tickets are available online, at the Mestalla box office, and at several of the club shops throughout the community.


Report by John Howden

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

Photo copyright Valencia CF


Valencia CF

Granada v Valencia CF April 4, 20.00 hours

Osasuna v Valencia CF April 15, 21.00 hours

Valencia CF v Real Betis April 20, 18.30 hours

Barcelona v Valencia CF April 27, 14.00 hours

Valencia CF v Alaves Weekend of May 4/5, tbc


Levante UD

Levante UD v Zaragoza April 6, 18.30 hours

Levante UD v Amorebieta April 13, 19.00 hours

Santander v Levante UD, April 20, 16.15 hours

Levante UD v Cartagena April 28, 18.30

Villarreal B v Levante Ud Weekend of May 4/5, tbc.

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