Valencia vs. Chelsea
As soon as the draw for the group stage was made this game caught the eye after the high profile transfer of the gifted Mata from the
Mestalla to Stamford Bridge for £27 million. Added to this Valencia’s opening form to the La Liga season which has seen them lose only once in their first 6 matches including an excellent 2-2 draw at home to Barcelona in which they were unlucky not to win.
Managing Master Class
After well publicised financial issues and the high profile sales of star players including Silva, Villa and Mata, respect needs to be
directed to Valencia’s manager Unai Emery who since being appointed from unfashionable Almeria has done an excellent job in ensuring the club are considered the third club in Spain. His eye for a deal and ability to bring through players is second to none and is somethign that even Aresn Wenger should look at. Widley tipped to succeed Vicnete del Bosque when he steps down Emery is one of the best up and coming managers in Europe.
Andres Villas-Boas has had a rapid ascent to stardom. First noticed by Bobby Robinson and later nurtured by Mourihno, AVB has now stepped out of the shadows and become his own man by first saving Academia from relegation and then winning the league, league cup and Europa League in the same season with Porto. After 8 games in charge of Chelsea AVB has already started to stamp his authority not only on the shape and playing policy of the team but the team selection. This may sound a strange compliment but all of Chelsea’s managers since Mourihno have not been able to shake his shadow with players such as Lampard and Drogba looming large over the squad.
Stats Zone Analysis
This will be an interesting clash of 4-3-3 vs. 4-1-3-1. Valencia like to play down their right using Feghouli or Pablo as more of an orthodox right midfielder with Banega being the key player in the middle of the park pulling the strings. In additon as is the way with modern full backs Valencia allow Miguel to push on creatign wheen possible a 2 v1 against the oposoing full back. This will be an interesting matchup against Chelsea’s left with Mata drifting central creating space for Cole to push on as a left winger. Add to this the back inform Torres who, as he did in his Liverpool days, drifting out to the left before cutting in between the CB and FB this will be the key tactical battle that could decide the game.
Chelsea’s Weak Point
As shown by Manchester United, Chelsea are vulnerable to quick direct balls either to the corners behind Bosingwa and Cole or through
the middle to Ivanovic or Alex conceding 3 goals as a result of this. With Saldado playing through the middle it will be important for Piatti and Pablo, who is likely to start ahead of Feghouli, to provide this width and early ball to keep the Chelsea FBs pinned
back. If Valencia can keep Cole and Bosingwa pinned back they will have an excellent chance of winning the game.
Key Battle Ramires vs. Ruiz
For me the most important player of the game will be Chelsea’s Ramires who is quickly staking a claim to take over form a now aging frank Lampard. After scoring two in his last EPL game against Swansea he has shown that he is capable of making breaking runs both with and without the ball into the box with deadly affect. Without a natural ball winner in the Valencia midfield (only 2 tackle s made in CM against Genk) it will be down to the strong Ruiz to ensure he is not left exposed and be quick to react to early runs. Conversely Ramires will need to ensure that he is not caught out defensively by leaving a space for Piatti to exploit as Valencia used to good effect against Genk receiving 20 out of 35 passes down the left channel.
The winner of this game will be the team who wins the battle of wings and is able to push their full backs forward pinning the opposition
team back. Torres is definitely back and Valencia will need to be very alert to his movement, however with all the star quality on show I fancy Ramires to be the winner for Chelsea.