Well, what a let-down.
Valencia headed into their Champions League opener against Juventus on Wednesday night time with excessive hopes of mounting a critical problem to the Italian champions and Manchester United for a spot within the knockout phases.
But they went down with barely whimper as Juve overcame the early – and seemingly very harsh – dismissal of Cristiano Ronaldo to register a particularly comfy 2-Zero victory.
And though each goals got here from the penalty spot via Miralem Pjanic, the guests have been full worth for his or her victory after creating a number of clear chances whereas the home team have been restricted to hardly any.
Don’t be fooled by the match stats, which present that Valencia had 26 makes an attempt on goal, as a result of practically all of these have been speculative and innocent long-range pot-shots which completely failed to bother visiting keeper Wojciech Szczesny. The reality is that stats generally lie, and Valencia have been effectively crushed.
Of course, Juventus are a tremendous team and there’s no disgrace for Valencia to lose against them. But excess of the end result, the style of the efficiency from Marcelino’s team was extraordinarily regarding, with Valencia looking of their depth and failing to satisfactorily compete regardless of taking part in with an additional man for greater than an hour.
It was boys against males stuff, and Valencia greater than contributed to their downfall with a collection of inexplicable particular person errors.
Although captain Dani Parejo missing a penalty in stoppage time is the most obvious candidate, perhaps the game’s largest defining second got here with round 15 minutes remaining when the hosts sparked a uncommon outburst of optimism by profitable a nook on the left. But Parejo performed it quick and was then two yards offside for a return cross from Denis Cheryshev, offering a neat encapsulation of how Los Che couldn’t even do the essential issues proper.
The important mitigating circumstance for Marcelino’s males was the absence of powerhouse midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, whose robust and lung-busting type epitomises the team when they’re at their finest. With his back-up Francis Coquelin additionally out, that left Valencia with a midfield duo of Parejo and Daniel Wass, a pair of technically good however bodily flimsy players, particularly against such canny and organised opponents as Juventus.
But Valencia didn’t solely lose this game as a result of identification of their midfielders, and essentially the most worrying factor is that it continues their poor begin to a season which promised a lot however is already in peril of unravelling.
Five games into the campaign, they’re nonetheless searching for their first win and have solely scored three goals, having adopted up an encouraging opening day draw with Atletico Madrid by dropping against Espanyol and drawing with Levante and Real Betis.
There’s nonetheless time to show issues round, however the optimism generated by a seemingly productive summer season within the switch market could be very evaporating. New forwards Michy Batshuayi and Kevin Gameiro are contributing little, Wass hasn’t discovered a settled function, skipper Parejo has badly regressed, frontman Rodrigo is shortly dropping confidence and, most critically, the team seems to be in peril of dropping its collective identification.
That the team and particular person players are under-performing is obvious, however the query is why? The display against Juventus was solely the symptom, and Marcelino wants to seek out the trigger – after which repair it.
Having turned the team round after taking over in the beginning of final season, he must be given time. But time is a finite commodity for Valencia in the event that they need to keep their chances of prolonging their Champions League campaign past Christmas and keep away from leaving themselves in a giant gap within the race for a prime 4 end in La Liga.
Their first probability to rectify issues comes on Sunday with an intriguing journey to fellow prime 4 contenders Villarreal, the membership the place Marcelino loved a lot success by taking the Yellow Submarine again into the highest flight. Another defeat this weekend could plunge Valencia to the brink of disaster.