It has been a long time since Valencia were an actual European powerhouse. It was in late 1990s and early 2000s that Valencia were a side no team wanted to play against and their peak years arrived in two Champions League finals and one La Liga title in 2004.
Now, they are next opponents of Manchester United in the Champions League. It was in the group stages in 2010 that these two sides met last time – and that season Man United finished as finalists in the competition. But it was in 2001 that Valencia managed to knock United out as they were the ones to reach the final showdown – and lose it.
However, the present is offering us a different story. Valencia had a great 2017-18, but their start to the new season has not been good. Their first win of the season came just days ago, against Real Sociedad.
Valencia have won just eight points in La Liga so far. They had five draws and one loss before this past weekend and in these seven matches, Valencia scored a mere five goals. That is simply not good enough. Their xG also suggests that Valencia were not good in front of the goal. They were expected to score almost nine goals, but remained stuck at five. No player scored more than once and Rodrigo has not been in form.
Last summer he was even rumoured to be going to Real Madrid as his big fan Julen Lopetegui became their new head coach. But he expectedly stayed and is still finding himself. The Spaniard has not been getting into great chances and has been making shots averaging 0.09 xG – that is not good.
Defensively, Valencia remained quite decent. Their 4-4-2 is working in that area – they conceded six goals in total, which would not have been a disaster had they been scoring more often on the other end.
Not The Easiest Of Schedules
Also, it should be noted that Valencia have played some very tough opponents early into the new season. Since the start of the season, Valencia played against Espanyol, Villarreal and Real Sociedad away from home, while they hosted Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Real Betis and Celta Vigo.
After Man United, they will play Barcelona and only after will they have an easier run of matches ahead of them. So, their poor results are still not catastrophic, especially if they manage to get on a winning run. Considering their quality from last season, that should be an important note for United fans before this match.
Lost Easily To Juventus
No one really expected for Valencia to host Juventus and beat them emphatically. But no one either expected that Juventus would be a man down after less than 40 minutes through a Cristiano Ronaldo red card and still win 2-0 without much fuss. That is exactly what happened. Juventus scored twice through Miralem Pjanic’s penalties and the feeling was that Valencia surrendered a bit too easily.
Against Man United, they will need to show more fight and more resilience if they are to get anything from this match.