|Villarreal (2)||Valencia (0)|
|Arnaut Danjuma 10′ (P), 17′|
With an eye on Saturday’s Copa del Rey final, Valencia coach Jose Bordalas rang the changes to keep his side fresh for the showpiece event. In came the teenagers for the Derbi de la Comunitat. A necessary risk, but one that backfired.
Having 4 players under 20 in the starting 11 was always going to be tough against Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal. And so it proved, with the hosts running out 0-2 winners.
Bordalas knew what he was doing. Uros Racic and Helder Costa were the only players retained from the lineup against Osasuna. The team’s unusual back 5 comprised 3 VCF Mestalla players, Thierry Correia and Eray Comert, a mish-mash of underplayed defenders.
Villarreal did not need an invitation. Fresh from knocking German giants Bayern Munich out of Europe, the Yellow Submarines dismantled Valencia in blistering fashion.
Arnaut Danjuma, the former Bournemouth forward, struck early in the 10th minute as Comert was adjudged to have handled the ball by VAR. Danjuma made no mistake as he placed his penalty into Jasper Cillessen’s far corner to give our keeper no chance.
While it would be disingenuous to blame the defence, the lack of chemistry between our backline was obvious. Seven minutes later, Danjuma doubled Villarreal’s lead after receiving a defence-splitting pass – the result of the Bats playing a high line but failing to move in unison to work the offside trap.
Valencia remained porous, and were lucky to be let off by poor finishing from the home side. As the rest of the game played out, Bordalas and his team must know everything hinges on Saturday. It now seems almost impossible to secure a European spot via a league finish.
We have a chance to end this season on a high with silverware. Batzine will be in Seville to capture that glory.