- S.D. Eibar ready for maiden La Liga outing
- SD Eibar stengthen ahead of debut La Liga season
- Can ‘Super Mario’ live up to expectations in Madrid?
- MAN IN THE GROUND – Brentford 0 – 4 Osasuna
- Historic Basque derby welcomes S.D. Eibar to La Liga
- Munich to Madrid, via Brazil – Tony Kroos
- Rakitic in Spanish Switch
- Can Spain find redemption in Rio?
- Viva Espana! A season of redemption for Spanish football
- From the old to the new: who can fill the void in years to come for La Roja?
Cup double would be a fitting reward for Emery’s work at Valencia
- Updated: 12 April, 2012
With one of the worst starts to a calendar year in the clubs history, featuring just three wins in 15 games and five losses, you could be forgiven for thinking Valencia’s season was all but over. However, given Los Che’s two most recent results, this campaign could eventually give the sort of exciting end that hasn’t been seen at the Mestalla since the torrid times of Ronald Koeman.
A semi-final Copa del Rey defeat at the hands of Barcelona was one of the low points in Valencia’s barren run, albeit a more acceptable loss than those against the likes of Real Zaragoza at the Mestalla, but an exit one game away from a final and a loss of third place that looked almost a formality at an earlier stage of the season had caused many supporters to panic.
Following a week where Unai Emery’s men went 2-1 down in the first leg of their quarter-final tie against AZ Alkmaar, and then dropped more points from a winning position when Levante came from behind to steal a 1-1 draw in the Valencian derby; Los Che quickly improved with a 4-0 win in the return leg of their Europa League quarter-final, and after a scoreless draw at the Bernabau, tore through Rayo Vallecano at the Mestalla.
The Europa League result means Valencia have another shot at a trophy, which would be their first in four years. The competition is still strong, but nonetheless won’t striker fear into players the same way Barcelona did, especially when their opponents, Atletico Madrid, haven’t beaten Valencia since February 2010.
In the league things are also getting exciting, a third place finish ensuring direct entry to the Champions’ League group stages has been a formality in previous seasons and it looked like that would be the case once again, however due to the team’s poor start to 2012 Valencia now face genuine competition, not only to finish third, but also in the top four altogether.
Malaga’s heavy investment finally looks to have finally paid off ninety million euros later, as they took third place for the first time following a 3-0 win over Racing Santander. Cross city rivals Levante sit just two points behind but have arguably the easiest run in of the three, and the extra motivation that progression to the Champions’ League group stages would virtually clear the clubs debt.
Valencia temporarily regained first place in La Liga’s theoretical second league with a comprehensive 4-0 thumping of the season’s surprise package Rayo Vallecano. A 4-0 win at this stage of this season would normally mean very little with only six games remaining but the position Valencia find themselves in has now ensured there will be not only entertainment in the league but also in Europe when they take on Atleti.
Sadly while La Liga’s two prize assets reign supreme there will be no chance of a title challenge providing excitement for anyone other than Real Madrid and Barcelona, but due to Los Che’s poor start to the year that thrill looks set to be replicated, and given Unai Emery’s time seemingly up at the seasons end, a cup success and Champions League qualification could provide the reward his four year tenure at the club so richly deserves.Follow @icentrocampista