Paul Murray´s Match Report / Real Sociedad 2-0 Valencia

Matchday 19 – Real Sociedad 2 – 0 Valencia  – Match Report

Sunday 10th January 2016

24,217 Spectators

Valencia remain without a win in La Liga under new head coach Gary Neville, after losing 2-0 at Anoeta against Real Sociedad on Sunday afternoon.  Neville suffered his third defeat in all competitions thanks to two second half strikes from Jonathas.

The first half was a fairly even affair and both sides hit the woodwork. Carlos Martinez’s left foot shot clipping the post after 15 minutes, then Rodrigo hit the crossbar from close range 3 minutes later.

The Valencia effort highlighted the lack of height within the home side’s central defence as right back Carlos Martinez had taken up a central position to defend the corner and no one had replaced him in his usual far post position.  As the ball went out of play after hitting the bar Martinez could be clearly seen pointing this out to his team mates.  He was 100% correct in this and La Reala need to implement a defensive strategy to cope with this potentially regularly occurring situation.

In general the home team defence were well organised in open play with all 4 defenders pushing up quickly to catch Valencia offside.  This happened on 4 occasions with Alcacer and Rodrigo seemingly unaware that their opponents were deliberately employing this tactic.  The first half ended with Valencia shading the possession statistics 47/53%.

Real Sociedad were considerably more dominant after the break, they quicken up the pace and started pressing the Valencia midfield.  Pardo positioned himself in a more advanced role and generally Real were playing 15 metres further up the pitch, forcing the visitors back.  It took a fine save from keeper Domenech to keep the score level when he got his fingers to a stinging effort from Ruben Pardo.  Sacristan substituted the ineffective Vela with Mikel Oyarzabal on 75 minutes in an attempt to keep up the pressure and add fresh legs to the attack.

His strategy paid quick dividends when Valencia keeper Domenech was at fault for the home side’s opening goal after he failed to deal with Carlos Martinez’s cross which had taken a slight deflection.  Brazilian forward Jonathas, who has been very disappointing this season, managed to bundle the ball home to open the scoring after 78 minutes.

Four minutes later Jonathas added the second with a brilliant header from an excellent cross from Carlos Martinez.  Martinez was given the ball by substitute Mikel Oyarzabal who showed great skill in retaining the ball by performing two drag backs before delivering a short pass to full back Martinez.  This created enough space for Martinez to deliver his pinpoint cross and Jonathas powered the ball into the bottom corner.  The team celebrated with Jonathas who must have been hugely relieved to finally make an important contribution to the team.

The game was effectively over and Sacristan took the opportunity to make two further substitutions replacing Jonathas with Hector (87 mins) and finally bringing back Joseba Zaldua who has been injured for a long time in place of Bruma (90 mins).

Overall we played well in the second half of this match, the improvement coming after we adopted a more aggressive approach and quicken up the pace.  Our defence played in a controlled manner and used the offside trap to good effect.  Both central defenders (Inigo and Elustondo) were very solid but we were lucky not to concede a goal in the first half when Valencia hit the bar.  Carlos Martinez was probably Man of the Match and in the final 15 minutes Oyarzabal made a much more positive contribution than Carlos Vela, the player he replaced.  Jonathas followed his mediocre first half effort with a very positive second half performance.

The match statistics showed: Possession 52/48% in favour of Real Sociedad, we managed 14 shots of which 7 were on target.  We won 5 corners and received 3 yellow cards: Jonathas (32mins), Pardo (63) and Hector (90 mins).

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