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Valencia: Embarking on a new era?

After losing more games than winning in the league last season, Valencia failed to qualify for either of Europe’s elite competitions. This season however, is a different story for the club as they’ve brought in a new manager and plenty of new players in their quest to become on of Spain’s finest once again. Jamie Currie tells us more.

Valencia 2015

Valencia are a club embarking on a new era, Peter Lim, the Singaporean owner has already poured several million euros into the club allowing them to strengthen their squad and bring in Nuno Santo and his team of technical staff. The new-look Los Che look to be heading towards the Champions League next season if they keep up their current form.

The arrival of Nuno and the new signings

 The summer window was a good one for Nuno and the Valencia fans; Lim and his millions enabled the club to buy in a plethora of new talent to freshen up the failing squad of the previous year. In came Benfica duo, striker Rodrigo Moreno and mercurial playmaker Andre Gomes, Manchester City hitman Alvaro Negredo on loan, Argentine youngster Rodrigo de Paul, along with German World-Cup winning defender Shkodran Mustafi. For Nuno, it represented a massive step up in his managerial career having worked wonders with Rio Ave in the Portuguese Super Liga. So far Nuno and his troops have somewhat outperformed their pre-season expectations, they are in pole position to gain that coveted fourth Champions League spot and if their form continues they may well be chasing down Atletico and finish in third – avoiding a potential tricky qualifier in August.

 Nuno’s style of play and tactical flexibility

 The 41-year-old has brought a new-found positivity and with the backing of the board he has got the whole club heading in an upward trajectory.  Nuno doesn’t like his side to keep the ball, just for the sake of keeping it.  He has likened his own philosophy to that of Jurgen Klopp: high-pressing, high energy and quick on the counter-attack.

He also has moved away from the popular 4-2-3-1 at times this season, he has used 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and even a variation of 3-5-2. They have all worked to good effect, without European football as a burden on this newly-assembled squad they are working well and getting the fans back through the turnstiles at the Mestalla.  They are currently playing some of the best football in the league, but are not afraid to grind out the 1-0 results and change their style in order to help them get the best result possible.

 Valencia’s key men

 Los Che’s success has built upon a successful spine. The spine consists of the defensive triangle, Diego Alves in goals, and the centre-back pairing of German Mustafi and the Argentine powerhouse Nicolas Otamendi. The three have struck up a fantastic understanding, and their superb defensive play has allowed Los Che to nick many games so far this season by the odd goal.   That is illustrated as they have the second-best defence in the league. They have conceded just 22 goals in 28 games.

In midfield, the captain Dani Parejo has led by example, and also put in some superlative midfield displays along with his partner Andre Gomes. The Portuguese has done pretty well so far, considering it’s his first six months in La Liga. He, like Parejo has the ability to slow the game down and play the killer through ball. That being said, it’s Parejo who is doing well stats-wise, he has eight goals and two assists, while the former Benfica man has four goals and one assist to his name so far.

In the striking department, Alvaro Negredo has been upstaged by the 21-year-old livewire Paco Alcacer (Paco Alcacer has featured in Outside of the Boot’s Top 10 Young Forwards in 2014-15). The young hit man has really made the no.9 shirt his own this season – leaving Negredo to have long spells on the bench since his return from injury.  The youngster has been the main man in attack for Los Che hitting 10 goals in all competitions.

His good form has also helped him work his way into the Spanish national squad – he goals will be needed for both club and country over the coming months.

Important victories so far

 They have came into this season full of belief, their most important wins have certainly set them up for the position they are in at the moment. Winning at home to Malaga 3-0 on week one was the building block that allowed them to gain the confidence to carry on into the opening months of the season.

The home game against current champions Atletico was another step in the right direction. They totally dominated Simeone’s side and were deserved 3-1 winners at the start of October. It really cemented their intent to finish in the top four. Furthermore, they beat Atleti by using the same high-pressing, high-energy tactic that they had used to win the league last season.

Finally, the 2-1 victory against Real Madrid, again at the Mestalla. That victory ended Los Blancos’ unbeaten run and started their descend down the table. For Valencia, it was just another result and another victory to show their tactical flexibility as they picked up three points, largely playing with their backs against the wall.

Written by Jamie Currie

Jamie Currie

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