Valencia - The long climb back
Yet another season begins under the shadows of Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia are gearing up for 2012/13 season under their new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino.
Last season, Los Che finished third in La Liga 39 points behind champions Real Madrid, and they also reached the semi-finals of Copa Del Rey – losing to Barcelona 3-1 on aggregate, and the Europa League – losing to Atlético Madrid 4-2.
Valencia has bagged a UEFA Champions League spot in the upcoming season though, and aims to break through the predictabilityand monopoly of La Liga.
It seems that each and every summer, Valencia has to deal with losing their star players and improvise their squad with the limited funds they have. This season Los Che, will be without full-back Jordi Alba who joined Barcelona for €14million (£11m) earlier this July. Turkish midfielder, Mehmet Topal has left for Fenerbahçe for €4.5 million, and Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao have sealed a three-year contract from their former striker Aritz Aduriz.
On the brighter side, Valencia has signed Mexican midfielder Andrés Guardado from Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna and Portuguese defender Joao Pereira from Sporting Lisbon for €3.7million (£3m). Los Che has also agreed a deal for Real Madrid’s midfielder Fernando Gago for €3.5 million and have made Sergio Canales’ last season move permanent for a reported fee of €12 million. Canales had an injury-hit debut season with Los Che but is determined to prove his worth.
"I am very thankful and excited more than ever to return to the field and give the same effort that Valencia have made for me," the playmaker stated to the club's official website.
Pelligrino will be looking for the likes of, Roberto Soldado, Jonas and Sofiane Feghouli who all had a remarkable 2011/12 season to repeat that form.
Soldado grabbed 27 goals and 6 assists in all competitions adding two hat tricks to his name. The 27 year old striker responded to assists with solid goals and was immense in attack hence, one can expect him to be devoted to goal scoring cause in the approaching campaign.
Striker Jonas had the second highest club goal tally with 19 goals, assisting 9 times. He continues to show outstanding performance in pre-season, along with his fellow midfielder Feghouli, who both contributed goals to their 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur Estadio Mestalla. The trio along with new signings Gago and Canales make Valencia a strong offensive team that wouldn’t be short of goals.
Portuguese defender Ricardo Costa was resilient in defence and helped in keeping the back line sturdy in the second half of last season. His impressive performance even got him a place in Portugal’s squad for Euro 2012. R. Costa was rock solid last season against Real Madrid and will surely be expected to show the same persistency against them in the opening La Liga fixture.
Valencia will kick off their new season on 19th August, away against league champions Real Madrid.
Overall, manager Pellegrino will target a successful debut season with Los Che. Knowing the tough competition against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the domestic league they will aim to beat the odds. On a more realistic level, the team will want to go beyond the semi-final stage and win Copa Del Rey and Spanish Cup this season and will work towards going a step further than their last season campaign in the Champions League.