|Valencia (1)||Rayo Vallecano (1)|
|Carlos Soler 19′ (P)||Isi Palazon 64′|
Draws against Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad have shown Los Che’s steel. But Valencia’s 3rd draw in a row against a fellow European contender may just expose how stale the stalemates have been and how we are lacking fresh ideas.
This was the game that should have revealed who was contender and who was pretender. Against high-flying, newly promoted Rayo Vallecano, Valencia – in almost any other circumstance – should have been humbling the visitors who have just one win in 18 Mestalla sojourns.
Instead, it was the home side who were penned in from the start, even as we took the lead. Our first shot of any kind coming from Carlos Soler’s 19th-minute penalty fizzed down the middle, after wily work from Hugo Duro to draw the foul.
There was gamesmanship aplenty, as you would expect from a Jose Bordalas side. A flailing, trailing elbow here, a foot stuck in a second longer, which winded up with about 20 committed fouls and 6 yellow cards for us. Have such tactics become counterproductive?
It certainly led to an inventive Rayo getting chances aplenty from set pieces. Finally, after lax tracking on our left side, they got the equaliser they threatened, and deserved. Three times in the last 10 minutes, the Madrid team could have won but for marginal offsides or bad decision making.
Being in shape at the back can make up for having less endowed assets up front. Right now, Valencia have gone a little pear-shaped – leaky at the back, and the front does little to fire the imagination with the formulaic Soler penalties, Goncalo Guedes magic and Duro exploits.
That the loan signings have adapted so well is a plus point, but for now, the Valencian conquest for Europe qualification is living on borrowed time. After snatching 10 of the first 12 LaLiga points on offer, the Bats have just 9 from the last 33. Stark. With the talent on offer, there has to be a solution somewhere, somehow. Let’s hope it comes soon.