|Real Sociedad (3)||Valencia (0)|
|Mikel Moreno 12′|
Nacho Monreal 45′
Adnan Januzaj 47′
Valencia truly, truly look like a mess now.
After a mid-week Italian dismantling at the hands of Atalanta, Los Che received a Basque bombing at the Reale Arena as the nightmare form continued.
With this match seeing the league’s 7th and 8th-placed teams battle for top four, this was a game Valencia simply could not lose. Despite our mediocre away form, we could be quietly confident of nicking a result, with wins on our last two visits to San Sebastián. But things were different this time.
Albert Celades’s squad were ravaged by injuries and suspensions. No Ezequiel Garay. No Gabriel Paulista. No Rodrigo Moreno. No Maxi Gomez. Even Jose Gayà, a mainstay in the team all season, was out with a knock.
The match pitted a red-hot team against a forlorn one. Real Sociedad had won five of their last six games, while Valencia were winless in four. And the difference in confidence showed on the pitch. From the start, Valencia sat deep in their own half, likely to protect the leaky defence of Eliaquim Mangala and Mouctar Diakhaby. Sociedad on the other hand, repeatedly bombed forward.
But the first goal was all of Valencia’s own doing. Mangala’s misplaced pass fell to Sociedad’s right-back Joseba Zaldua, whose cross fell for a completely unmarked Mikel Merino to head home after Diakhaby completely misjudged his.
Celades’s decision to sit back increasingly seemed like a tactical mistake, as shots rained down on Valencia’s goal. Signs for a second home goal looked increasingly likely.
True enough, it came just before half-time from a corner. Former Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal headed in from point-blank range following a knockdown from Aritz Elustondo, who had shaken off Jaume Costa like a rag doll. The coach who instructed the 1.70m-tall Costa to mark a defender almost a head taller than him should be fired.
The entire Valencia defence seemed to be having a Spanish siesta. Mangala was so poor that he was hooked off at half-time for academy product Hugo Guillamón to make his first-team debut. To think he once cost Manchester City 42 million pounds.
Hopes that Los Che would come back firing in the second half was soon doused with a thunderbolt from former Manchester United man Adnan Januzaj in the 47th minute that settled the game.
Upfront, Valencia’s attack was equally as clueless as its defence. Striker Kevin Gameiro was so isolated all game that no one would have noticed his absence if he had walked off the field. With only just one measly shot on target all game, Los Che’s winless streak now stretches to five matches.
Captain Dani Parejo did not mince his words after the game: “We were just not strong enough. There are many things for us to correct. We have to make sure things change. We can’t continue like this.”
Out of the Copa Del Rey. Soon to be out of Europe. And now, top four hopes slipping away. We are officially in a crisis now.