Valencia Pay the Price of ‘Negative’ Tactics

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 25, 2019 08:09


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Valencia Pay the Price of ‘Negative’ Tactics

By Satish Sekar at Leganés’ Estadio Municipal Butarque © Satish Sekar (February 24th 2019)

The Cost

Mauricio Pellegrino Luna’s Leganés team made his former team, Valencia, pay the price of attempting to hold on to their lead for a half. Martin Braithwaite’s 90th minute scrappy goal cancelled out Geoffrey Kondogbia’s controversial header after 22 minutes.

With a minute of normal time remaining a cross from the right gave Braithwaite the first opportunity – his shot was prodded back towards him by Gabriel Paulista, and Braithwaite slotted it past Neto at his left-hand post to level.


Against the run of play defensive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia scored his first goal of the season. He headed in Carlos Soler’s freekick from the right. Soler won the free-kick after a bad foul by Vasyl Kravets.

After a brief review– including VAR, which Pellegrino had advocated using when Southampton manager – referee Javier Estrada Fernández gave the goal. Pellegrino was not best pleased, but it was the referee’s decision that counted.

Leganés were upset that Kondogbia appeared to shove the defender in the back as he went for the header, although Unai Bustinza went down a bit theatrically. Replays appeared to show that Kondogbia had pushed Bustinza, but the fall looked odd.

Tactical Error?

Valencia seemed to have settled for a 1-0 win, although Marcelino denied such tactics were used in the second half despite apparent time-wasting, going down and staying down and Neto taking his time at goal-kicks – that started very early in the second half.

It could have been far worse as in added time Moroccan international Youssef En-Nesyri was only had Neto to beat, but the Brasilian keeper denied him. It seemed to affect En-Nesyri as his frustrations got the better of him a minute later after heading Juanfran’s cross over.

En-Nesyri reacted when the referee did not penalise Cristiano Piccini. He was yellow-carded for dissent.

Robust Defence

Neto began wasting time almost as soon as the second half began, but Marcelino defended his keeper. Valencia seemed to settle for defending their lead. Almost as soon as the match resumed Neto began wasting time at goal-kicks. A warning wasn’t heeded and Fernández finally brandished the yellow card.

However, Valencia’s coach, Marcelino, was not having it.

“What matters is when the ball is in play.

“When the referee thought that Neto was wasting time, he immediately yellow carded him.”

He also rejected the suggestion that it was a tactical error running the clock down, but few clear chances were created and Valencia sat back in the second half.

As the first half drew to a close Óscar crossed from the right flank. Despite no challenge Neto elected to punch, allowing Leganés to keep the pressure on. It wasn’t the only time Neto chose that option. In the second half Neto also elected to punch when Leganés’ captain Unai Bustinza’s cross from the right headed towards the keeper’s midriff.


José Gayá hit the bar in the first ten minutes. Dimitrios Slovas failed to put Leganés 4 minutes into the match, shooting over. went close in the opening couple of minutes, but the clearest opportunities were a point-blank header by Óscar Rodríguez, which was met with a reflex save by Neto and En-Nesyri through on goal with just the keeper to beat.

“Neto made two very good saves,” Marcelino said, but neither Óscar, nor En-Nesyri should have given him the opportunity to do anything but pick the ball out of the net.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 25, 2019 08:09