The good thing about ESPN in New Zealand is that they have the Serie A and the Spanish La Liga. Tonight I was able to watch my favorite club Valencia go up against Sevilla in the Mestalla. To tell you the truth, the groundskeeper needs to work on the pitch because there were way too many patchy areas. It looked like the pitch is in mid-season condition unlike the pristine conditions it should be in. (I guess that's what happens when you don't have money). This game was a good early examination to see if Valencia will be able to mount some sort of challenge for a Champions League spot. I'm not dismissing the title but Barcelona and Real Madrid are on a planet on their own. So getting a third place finish and getting that Champions League money will be important especially with keeping key players and such.
You would think in a game where David Villa was average that it would be a long night. However many other players stepped in tonight and did pretty well. Ever Banega had a very good game in the heart of the midfield. Mata was causing Konko, Sevilla's right fullback, lots of problems. Pablo on the other side was dangerous also. The game was flowing nicely with nice passing from both teams however everything broke down in the final third. Alexis and Dealbert impressed me at center defense. Frustrating Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute who both seemed disinterested in the game. Especially with Kanoute getting two yellows in the first half and leaving Sevilla with 10 men.
That was the difference in the game because when even it was just going back and forth but nothing was happening. However in the second half Valencia dominated much to my delight. Mata scoring two minutes after the starting of the second half. And the fluid movement of the team's front six was nice to see and a promise of something special this season (I know I might be jumping the gun a bit). Pablo Hernandez scored 10 minutes from the end to finish off the game in Sevilla's eyes. Banega was in the heart of both moves. Dribbling across the edge of the box and laying it off to Mata. In the second goal, he dashed through three players and struck a firm outside-foot pass to Pablo who finished with a first time chip over Palop.
The new signings were pretty good. I've already said that Dealbert was impressive in his first run out. He was sure-foot on just about every tackle and header against the taller Kanoute and Fabiano. I couldn't really point at any time that he made a mistake. He was solid. Bruno was okay. Tommy Smyth, the ESPN commentator, was loving him because he had grit, but he left me wondering with his touches often going out of play and didn't really get forward as he needed to. He did have to deal with Jesus Navas which is a pretty tough task for any left fullback. Then again, I didn't really have much expectations of Bruno to begin with so maybe I'm being rough on him. When Jeremy Mathieu came on for Bruno, I thought he was much better than Bruno. Got forward often and actually quiet down Navas a lot for the second half. He did make some mistakes towards the end of the game but I'll forgive him for that. In my opinion, he should be the starting option at the left fullback position. Bruno just didn't cut it for me.
I think Unai Emery has got this time on the right track right now. I'm sure David Villa will be better in the next game. I don't think that I even needed to say that because he's world-class and will probably bang in 20 goals this season. Hopefully Mata, Pablo, and David Silva can bag about 30 between them. And Emery giving Banega more freedom in that central area of the midfield will make teams nervous when they go against Los Che. It's still early and we'll see what will unravel in the rest of this season. A run in the Europa League and a top four finish will make me a happy person.