Perhaps, when we think about some of the great Valencia teams, we see quick passing football played at a blinding pace, with courage and flair and players seamlessly switching between the lines to run down the opponents. This time around, we were on the receiving end.
Our showdown against Real Madrid at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano was always going to be a stiff test. In the end, horrid defending and an uninspired performance made this another game to forget.
Javi Gracia’s 4-4-2 formation featuring debutant Francisco Reis Ferreira at centre back position looked promising in the opening minutes. The compact setup seemed to cut off Real Madrid’s fast-attacking prowess, especially Luka Modric’s elegantly-lofted diagonals in transition from defence to attack.
But it took only 12 minutes for a single long pass from midfield maestro Toni Kroos to cut Valencia open. Karim Benzema finished brilliantly, haring off all alone from the right edge of the penalty area before spanking a low hard shot into the far left corner past a helpless Jaume Domenech. With the amount of time and space that the 33-year-old Frenchman had to pick a spot, it seemed like he might have stayed on for supper.
Ball-watching would cost the Los Che again in the 42nd minute with Kroos effortlessly placing the ball past Domenech in the bottom left corner after a series of exchanges between Lucas Vázquez and Luka Modric down the right flank.
At 12th place, we are merely three points away from the drop zone. The message is clear: we need points fast.