Valencia falling by La Liga wayside
Marcelino's Valencia side have been enduring a woeful run recently. It began with a 2-1 defeat to Las Palmas on 20 January. Next came a second-leg loss to Alaves in the Copa del Rey with Los Che only surviving on penalties. That was followed by the 4-1 reversal against Real Madrid. In February, a 1-0 setback to Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metroploitano was sandwiched between a 3-0 aggregate capitulation to Barcelona in the Copa.
The Bats' form has gone to pieces. Hopes for winning a domestic cup are over. Their chances of finishing in a Champions League spot appear slim. Els Taronges were in the La Liga title race in December. Two months later they are ceding ground to the field. What has gone wrong?
To begin December Valencia were second in the table with 31 points from 13 games. It sat only four points adrift Barcelona. Los Che were unbeaten and the division's second-highest scorers. Then the altitude became too much.
Marcelino’s squad benefitted from not having European games. They had seven days to prepare for every match. Consequently, Valencia picked up impressive results in season's first few months. Draws against Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona kept the team in the hunt.
When the unbeaten run ended, things began to fall apart. Valencia lost away to Getafe on 3 December, then suffered two more defeats in the next three games.
Things briefly picked up for Los Che with their Copa Del Rey run and consecutive wins in La Liga in the New Year. Then playing more frequently began to tell. Six consecutive losses, counting the penalty escape against Alaves, have significantly altered the team's prospects. Valencia has lost six league games this season. All have come in the last nine.
Marcelino’s men cling to third in the table. They are nine points adrift Atletico, 18 from Barcelona. Real Madrid is now just one point behind and beginning to resemble a juggernaut again. In fifth, Villarreal is just one win from matching Valencia. A Champions League place for next season is in jeopardy.
Zaza’s drought up front
Valencia striker Simone Zaza joined from Juventus last summer. He scored nine goals in his first 10 La Liga appearances. He’s gone cold ever since, scoring just once in the nine outings that followed. The 26-year-old hasn’t found the net in his last 10 appearances in all competitions. Unsurprisingly, Valencia has suffered.
Los Murcielagos were filled with goals early in the season, thrashing relegation-bound Malaga 5-0 in September, Real Betis 6-3 in October, Sevilla 4-0 a week later. They scored three or more goals in six games between August and November. They have scored one or less in seven of the 11 subsequent contests.
Leaks in the back
Zaza’s goal drought has contributed to Valencia's woes in the final third, but they aren’t keeping goals out at the other end either. Four of their six most recent defeats have seen opponents score at least two. Real Madrid pumped in four. Marcelino must be concerned.
Valencia are out of the Copa Del Rey. They may soon be out of the Champions League picture. Enduring their worst run of form this season, the club has to wonder how far it will fall.