Valencia – Eibar: Valencia Rue Missed Chances As A Dominant Eibar Grab A Late Goal (0-1)
Valencia’s Champions League hopes continue to wane as a confident Eibar side dominated the game. Valencia started out in a surprisingly passive setup, and failed to turn the tide against Eibar who played like they always do, pressing high. Eibar secured a deserved win with a late goal and played themselves safe for another year of LaLiga football.
Tactical analysis and match report by Tom Quartly.
Sunday morning saw sixth and tenth in LaLiga go head to head. Still hanging on to the hope of Champions League football after a disappointing start to the season, Valencia had found the net eight times in their past three games, overcoming Real Betis and Levante before losing last time out to Atlético Madrid. Central midfielders Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin had started the past two games together in a 4-4-2 formation, so it would be interesting to see if Marcelino would line up in a similar way again.
He did. Marcelino changed little structurally from their narrow 3-2 loss at the Wanda Metropolitano. With Neto in goal, the main switch came at the back where central defenders Mouctar Diakhaby and Ezequiel Garay were replaced by Facundo Roncaglia and Gabriel. José Gayá and Daniel Wass continued in fullback whilst Ferran Torres and Gonçalo Guedes were deployed on the wings.
As mentioned earlier, Parejo and Coquelin continued their partnership in the prolonged absence of Geoffrey Kondogbia. There was a single change up top in Marcelino’s 4-4-2 shape as Kevin Gameiro was joined by Rodrigo, who had just returned from suspension.
SD Eibar had come off the back of a shaky spell of results. Their torrid away form had seen them go without a win since the start of October. Manager José Luis Mendilibar admitted that his side were outplayed by relegation threatened Huesca last time out and was certain to bounce back. Was a change of shape on the cards?
It was. The usual 4-4-2 formation was swapped out for a 4-2-3-1 shape. It was interesting to see that central defenders Sergio Àlvarez and Paulo Oliveira had swapped sides, with the latter operating from the left. Ruben Peña and José Àngel came into the fullback positions and a double pivot 4-2-3-1 is one of the most frequently occurring formations in football. The two most defensive midfielders are called a ‘double pivot’. of Joan Jordán and Gonzalo Escalante protected Fabián Orellana, who started his thirtieth game in LaLiga. After a long term injury, Pedro Léon continued out on the right whilst Marc Cucurella played on the left in a more advanced position from the previous week. Sergi Enrich led the line for Eibar, on the hunt for his eighth LaLiga goal.
Match prediction, standings and implications going into the weekend.
Dominant Eibar contained by press
Eibar dictated the opening exchanges but Marcelino’s triangular press limited them to harmless horizontal balls across the halfway line. The first ten minutes followed a similar pattern: Eibar held a strong spell of possession, attempting to penetrate Valencia’s bizarre low block. A low block refers to a team that retreats deep in their own half out of possession, generally only disrupting their opponents around their own box. It was odd to see Valencia sit so deep, especially early on.
Valencia’s triangular press depicted.
Eibar’s lack of attacking quality was evident; the only threat came from surging runs from the back by central defenders Oliveira and Álvarez. This created an inevitable overload but still was not enough to seriously trouble Neto. However, an interesting battle down Eibar’s left hand side began to brew. It had become well known over the past few fixtures that Daniel Wass had struggled defensively playing in his unorthodox right back position. Mendilibar was clearly aware of this and had instructed Barcelona loanee Marc Cucurella to drive at the out of position Danish midfielder.
Eibar’s double pivot was working fantastically. They were able to dictate the tempo whilst enabling Fabián Orellana to operate as a free-roaming fantasista. This meant that the number ten could attempt high risk manoeuvres, combining with Enrich and eventually substitute Charles to cause Valencia’s back line constant issues. Their continuous pressure was always going to bring chances, the most significant one coming in the form of a cross to Orellana at the back post. The Chilean was unable to gain significant power but it was a sign of things to come.
Orellana troubled Valencia all afternoon and the Chilean is rightly at the heart of Eibar’s passmap.
Valencia play long ball, but to no effect
Similar to spells against Atlético Madrid on Wednesday, Marcelino set up Valencia in a flat 4-4-2 formation. Whilst this did not work against Simeone, the Spaniard was having some joy against Mendilibar. The proactive Francis Coquelin quashed the halfspaces, forcing Eibar out wide. It was clear that Valencia were happy to afford the likes of Joan Jordàn and Gonzalo Escalante the ball, preferring to feed Parejo and launch direct counterattacks when possession was won.
This worked well. Rodrigo and Gameiro were willing runners which, in turn, brought the whole team up the pitch. This gave Valencia the ability to establish their usual 4-1-2-1-2 formation when in possession; Parejo guided the attacks whilst Coquelin acted as an incontrista, fending off any possible counter Eibar had planned.
Lacklustre Valencia attacking showed once again as they managed to muster little in response to Eibar’s possession.
Dani Parejo came closest from a free kick but half-time soon arrived. Valencia were unable to break into Eibar’s box with enough regularity to trouble the back line, ultimately resulting in minimal chances for the home side.
Valencia lack attacking output
Marcelino made sure that his side began fast in the second half. That seemed to be the case for a total of around thirty seconds. Guedes charged past Pablo De Blasis, who had come on for the injured Ruben Peña, before lifting a cross that was put out for a corner. After that, the Eibar dominance resumed.
The trend continued. All season Valencia had lacked significant attacking output, their top three scorers amounting to a measly thirteen goals. This is incredibly low for the position they find themselves in and even with eight in the last three, they are no match for the sides around them. Getafe have thirty-six between three forwards as an example.
As Valencia grew into the game, the aforementioned 4-1-2-1-2 shape became more prominent and when Dani Parejo’s chipped through pass found Kevin Gameiro, the Frenchman looked certain to fire home on the half volley. It was saved by Dmitrović. An almost identical pass and run found Gameiro again just moments later but this time it sailed over the bar. Even substitute Santi Mina was unable to find the net, slicing a square ball narrowly wide of the far post. Wasted chances once again.
The closing stages of the game did not waver; Eibar rode Valencia’s brief wave of attacks and found themselves once again most likely to score entering the final ten minutes of the game. Score is what they did. A stray defensive header from Gayá played Charles through and the Brazilian calmly slotted away past his compatriot Neto. A well deserved win for a much improving side but disappointing for a once again poor Valencia. 0-1.
After scoring in midweek against his former club, Atlético Madrid, Kevin Gameiro was back to his blundering ways. Unable to retain the ball for his side and his hopeless squandering of chances just about sums up his and Valencia’s season.
On the other hand, the rise of Eibar continues. Now that they were safe from relegation, the confidence from José Luis Mendilibar to come to La Mestalla and control the game was a testament to his character and drive that he carried into his team.
Up next, Valencia travel to London where they face Arsenal in the Europa League semi final. This could now be the only hope for Champions League football next season and they will surely throw everything and more at it. Should be a good one.
Contrarily, Eibar continue their LaLiga campaign at home to more European hopefuls in Real Betis. It should be an interesting encounter as it will see two possession-hungry sides go head to head. A game to look forward to perhaps.
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