In the month of December, Valencia play a total of five games. They kick off the month by playing Granada at home, before starting their Copa Del Rey campaign against Hopsitalet away. The next game is a league game against Real Sociedad, before playing the return leg of the Hospitalet tie at home. They finish the month away to Athletic Bilbao.
This was a tough game for both the players and me. Granada dominated the middle of the park and made it really hard for us to break them down, and we struggled to contain them ourselves. Every little tactical change I made was ineffective, and so I just had to rely on the players to get me through. Eventually, the quality we needed, after Parejo’s freekick caused Roberto a problem, and the rebound fell to the feet of Negredo, who buried it. This kind of style is not pretty, but a more scrappy, win one-nil type of game is essential to winning the title.
Copa Del Rey Round 5, 1st Leg:
The Copa Del Rey is a trophy we are targeting, and to win in this manner was very pleasing. I opted for a more inexperienced line-up to give our regulars a rest, and they all certainly proved they can do the job. It only took two minutes for the break through, as Tielemans’ head met with De Paul’s corner, and found the net, and this was his first goal for the club. The next goal hit the back of the net eight minutes later, with Feghouli getting himself on the scoresheet. Alcácer, who has struggled to find the target recently - despite his early season form, was the next to get in on the act. Rodrigo’s cross found Alcácer, who hit a shot, which nestled in the goal, and that was his twentieth goal of the season. He then found the net again just a minute later, with De Paul’s brilliance setting the Spaniard up with an easy chance. After half-time, the goal scoring continued, with Rodrigo connecting with Feghouli’s cross. Fuego then rounded off the win with a stunning freekick from long range. The victory really showed that our second team can perform, albeit it was against a lowly opposition, but it gives me no worries in the future.
Another solid, but tight, win really. We showed our quality, and that we don’t just rely on our strikers to get the ball. The first goal came from a corner given away by Gaztañaga. Parejo floated the ball in, and it found Otamendi, who had no problems finishing it off. It wasn’t until the seventieth minute that Valencia found the net again, with captain Dani Parejo scoring a fabulous freekick from twenty-five yards. It was another even game, but we pulled through.
Copa Del Rey Round 5, 2st Leg:
With the tie effectively won, there was no pressure on the players to make sure they won. Although, Hospitalet’s defending was much improved from the first leg, we still dominated. We had twenty-three shots in total, a very nice amount, but it took us time to find the breakthrough, with Rodrigo connecting with Pereira’s cross from the deep and placing it into the back of the net in the sixty-fourth minute. However, it wasn’t until the ninetieth minute that Valencia got their second, with De Paul finishing off a fantastic move. It was a game we dominated, and the only problem was the lack of goals to show for it.
I always thought this would be a tough game, and boy was I proved right. Bilbao are a quality side, and despite their transfer rules, have good players in every position. When Rodrigo put us ahead in the nineteenth minutes, I felt a sense of relief and jubilation, but it didn’t last long unfortunately, as Óscar De Marcos quickly equalized. When Alcácer then netted on the brink of half time, I was unbelievably happy that we were in front, and for him, as it was his first goal in La Liga for four games. We managed to defend really well in the second half, as Bilbao really turned up the quality – but our defence was never breached and we left with all three points.
Valencia are now five points clear of second place at the top of La Liga, on 44 points from 17 games. They have scored 44 goals and only conceded an impressive 11 goals, a joint league low. This leaves their goal difference at an impressive +33.
Coming Up: January
Valencia play a huge 6 games in the month of January. They start the new year away to Eibar, before playing the first leg of the Copa Del Rey against Sevilla away before facing them at home a week later for the return leg. In between these two games, Los Che face high flying Celta at home, and then play Elche and Real Madrid at home to round up the month.