Six-time La Liga champions Valencia are back where they belong – at the very top of the Spanish football.
Following years of struggles both on and off the pitch, Los Che finally look like a giant they truly are – a club of great stature, rich history and great legacy – for which they will one man to thank for. Actually two, and neither of them is the club president Peter Lim.
What A Difference A Year Makes
With eight La Liga wins on the bounce and the 2-0 win away at Espanyol as the most recent one, Valencia maintained their incredible unbeaten run that has been going on for the whole season.
Los Che have won nine league matches, drew three and find themselves four points behind leaders Barcelona. At the same time, they are huge six points in front of La Liga reigning champions Real Madrid in what is turning out to be extremely successful campaign for the club this far.
Only a year ago, things were dramatically different for the La Liga fallen giants.
With former Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli taking over as Valencia’s fifth manager in just 11 months, the club hierarchy hoped they had finally secured a stability factor and a man who would be able to turn things around.
With only three wins to their name, Los Che were sitting in 15th place in the standings this time last year but the things only got worse only a month later when Cesare Prandelli decided to abandon the ship and leave after only ten games in charge, on 30 December 2016.
The change of fortunes after 12th-place finish in the 2016/17 season is remarkable and is down to what so far functions as a match made in heaven.
Alemany + Marcelino = A Perfect Combination
It may go down to pure coincidence, but Valencia’s rise back to prominence commenced the very moment the club decided to appoint former Real Mallorca president Mateu Alemany the new general director back in March.
Mateu Alemani rolled up his sleeves and dug in knee deep to tackle the burning issues at the club and should be praised for his direct hands-on approach that is currently yielding great results.
Alemani first decided to go against the popular choice of Quique Setien – who was the favourite to sit at the helm – and opted for Marcelino Garcia Toral, the man who had been making plenty of waves during his three-year stint at Villarreal.
One man’s loss turned out to be another man’s gain as Marcelino got surprisingly sacked for differences with Villarreal’s board of directors and ultimately chosen as Valencia’s next coach.
With a full backing from Mateu Alemany, head coach Marcelino was also given full freedom to imprint his own vision of football and introduce and exciting brand of play which ultimately went on to make Valencia one of the most exciting teams in the league.
Right Moves At the Right Time
Alemany and Marcelino brushed off pressure from owner Peter Lim and superagent Jorge Mendes who wanted a say in the club’s transfer dealing but instead went on to realise their own ideas.
The first thing they did was getting rid of unmotivated veterans such as Nani or Enzo Perez and introducing a string of young and exciting players that made Valencia the youngest average squad in La Liga this season with 25 years, 0 months.
As a club desperate of the second chance in attempt to reach former glory, Valencia became a proper sanctuary for exactly the same type of players – those who never got the chance they thought was deserved.
The likes of Simone Zaza, Geoffrey Kondogbia and especially the PSG loaned star Goncalo Guedes are leading the way for Valencia with rejuvenated spirit and restored confidence they lacked at their respective clubs.
Marcelino’s short-passing style has transformed Valencia’s play and made it similar to Barcelona’s.
The two sides will, in fact, go head to head in the very next round of La Liga and Los Che the valuable 37/13 outside bet to catch the Catalans off guard and put a fresh spin on the title race.
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