El Centrocampista


Valencia picked up their eighth win of the season after defeating Rayo Vallecano 2-1 on Saturday.

It was a return to winning ways for Unai Emery’s team following the disappointment loss to Real Madrid, and continued their remarkable record of scoring in every league game so far this season.

It is also significant as it was their 13th game in La Liga, which means the first third of the season is over. Surely a good point to reflect on the campaign so far for los che.

Valencia have been superb in the league and looking back, it is hard to pick out any real blemish.

They have beaten every team that you would expect them to and performed admirably against Barcelona and Real Madrid.

All this comes after the last-minute departure of Juan Mata in the transfer window which threw any plan’s Emery had into disarray.

Although there was expected to be interest in Mata by late August it appeared to have waned and that he would be at the Mestalla for the season, however Chelsea came in with a week to go.

Mata had been integral to Valencia’s play in the prior season and with no apparent direct replacement it was felt they may find it tough. However the departure of established stars also provides other players with the opportunity to shine.

One of the highlights of the season has been the continued emergence of Jordi Alba. Although he was always a exciting prospect, this season has to be considered his breakthrough year.

Sergio Canales was also showing some of the talent that saw him join Real Madrid, however a terrible knee injury means he will be sidelined for the majority of the season.

In Europe, Valencia have found life much more difficult. Despite a sensational 7-0 win over Genk in the last game, Valencia realistically have to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to go through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

It will be an uphill battle for the Spaniards and Chelsea will surely be seen as overwhelming favourites.

If they do go out, they will look back at an away draw in Genk as the main reason for not qualifying. Considering the score in the reverse fixture, on reflection a point was not enough.

A win in that game would mean they would have been top of the group at the moment.

It looks likely they will continue their post-Christmas, European adventures in  the Europa League which is a realistically winnable competition for Valencia.

Priority would switch to winning this competition and consolidating their position in La Liga’s top four, thus securing another season in the lucrative Champions League next year.

Despite the fantastic start to the season, few Valencia fans believe they could actually challenge for the title in Spain.

The truth is, they cannot compete with the financial muscle wielded by the ‘big-two’.

Third place looks more or less secured however, on current form, although they will still have to keep one eye on the chasing pack.

Domestically, Valencia have been almost imperious and Emery and his men deserve the plaudits for the way they have performed.

With the club finally coming out of the financially black hole that has dogged them in recent years, the future looks bright for los che.

If they can win at Stamford Bridge next week, things will look even brighter.

¡Vamos Valencia!

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