By Rodney Ballantine
Every team has them, at some stage of the season, some for a few games, some for a month, others longer, but it’s not good to have one when you are in the Champion’s League and being intent on opening a gap between those teams pushing you in the on going battle for a place in next season Champion’s League. What you can probably tell, from the various clues, would be in relation to a ´bad patch´. Valencia last week had one, but one which was no doubt emphatic and one which if not dealt with, could disrupt what had looked like being a successful season.
First of all they were dumped out of the Champion’s League, 4 – 2 on aggregate, against what looked like a very average side in Shalke 04 of Germany, who are struggling domestically and have just recently got rid of their manager Felix McGath. They needed a good performance away from home after drawing the home leg in the Mestalla in Valencia 1 – 1 (with the away goal in Europe being of the upmost importance). Things seemed to be going well, when an early goal from the Portuguese central defender Costa in the seventeenth minute give them the lead in the tie, and an important away goal. Then just before half time Farfán scored a nice curling free kick to level the tie score wise and cancel out the away goal from Valencia. Everything was to play for, and both sides were well matched in a fairly even tie. What was needed was for Valencia to demonstrate the stylish but effective football that has served them well so far this season. This however was lacking, with the Germans producing a strong second half, typical performance and scoring two more goals in the form of another from Farfán and one from Gavronovic and put them into the next round.
Manager Urai Emery voiced his disappointment after the game, by saying “We’ve been knocked out unjustly, we’ve missed an opportunity with everything in our favour. It was a game where we had more chances and we lost. I went back into the dressing room so disappointed that I couldn’t say anything to the players, but I have nothing to blame them for.” This statement was maybe in some opinions not a fair reflection on the game, although it is easy to say that scoring in the first half give them the benchmark to move on and score a few more and advance to the next round. An opportunity they seized to take and are thus paying the price.
After the disappointment of the knock out from the Champions League it was up to Valencia to lift themselves and get back into the bread and butter, as they say, of the league. They were given a fixture which looked in hindsight, a good way to recuperate from the disappointment of midweek, against a team that has been hovering around the basement and relegation places all season. An away tie against a Zaragoza side, seemed perfect, but turned out to be a nightmare. Valencia went down 4 – 0, in what was a disastrous performance, which was culminated by a sending off as well. This in turn lead to the club captain, David Navarro, giving a public apology to fans after the game, something which in football is pretty much unheard off.
The pressure is on the manager Urai Emery and his players now to step up after a disappointing week and move forward and secure their objective of a champion’s league place for next season. Their will be no more distractions now, as they are already out of the Spanish Cup and as has been mentioned, the Champions League and will therefore maybe take this as a positive, in the fact that there are no more distractions from now until the end of the future.
First up, is Sevilla, another massive game, and against one of the those that are after the coveted Champions League places, although it has to be said, that Valencia are in a far better position in regards to this. Any game for any team though against Sevilla is always difficult, but no doubt a win will help Valencia and maybe they can extend their gap between the chasing teams. The season will not end on this game though, with as well as Real Madrid to play, they have games against other teams in and around them, so after a disastrous week, its time to lift those heads again, and move forward, and get back to how they have been playing so far this season, impressively.