I was always told it was best to begin with a joke. Maybe humour isn’t my strong point…
The fact that the question above is usually followed by an instant dismissal of Valencia’s title dreams, almost as quick as Messi changes direction, makes glum reading for Valencia supporters.
Only in a handful of leagues will the 3rd placed team not have a significant hope of challenging for the title. It’s a dismal situation for Valencia, struggling for success amidst the league, cup and European duopoly of ‘Bardrid’ as Valencia finished a whopping 30 points adrift of runners up Barcelona!
Perhaps a more suitable query would be to ask whether Valencia are the greatest challengers to the La Liga giants. Now I bet that has a few of you scratching your head and/or chin.
Atletico Madrid have strengthened within the last 8 months to become a Champions League contender and we all know about the spending of Malaga (up until now as it seems it could all go up in smoke), no less Valencia who sold Isco and Joaquin to the South coast side last summer.
Atleti halted Valencia’s European run in the semi-finals of the competition on their way to winning it, probably the turning point in the Valencia-3rd place dynasty.
Valencia have always been a selling club, losing key players annually. Jordi Alba departed for Barcelona in the summer yet Atletico maintained their squad from last season, looking to go from strength to strength. Valencia constantly have to rebuild and the resurgence of Atletico and the pressure of an immeasurable Malaga side could begin the club’s downfall after clinging onto 3rd for so many years.
Unai Emery, frequently chastised by the fans, has departed too paving the way for previously inexperienced Mauricio Pellegrino. Things aren’t looking too promising already. Why can’t Rafa Benitez just drop at the gates of the Mestalla?
Pellegrino may be the next best thing however having assisted Rafa at Liverpool and Inter. Can Benitez’s disciple bring similar success as his predecessor? If so it will probably be bigger than the next coming of Jesus!
Pellegrino may have lost Alba and Aduriz but his incoming transfers help ease the loss of the duo. Joao Perreira, Fernando Gago and Sergio Canales are handy players and are likely to be perfect at setting up Roberto Soldado (should Valencia not lose grip of their star man).
The gap, sadly, is growing between the top two and the chasing pack. Valencia simply cannot match the sort of revenue Real, Barca or even Atletico Madrid manage to bring in. The club face a struggle to keep their grip on 3rd place but Champions League qualification should still be attainable. They’ll just have to watch over their shoulder for Atletico Madrid and not focus on the inevitable yardage between themselves and ‘Bardrid’.
La Liga: 3rd
Copa del Rey: Semi-finals (lost to Barcelona 3-1 on agg)
Europa League: Semi-finals (lost to Atletico Madrid 5-2 on agg)
Andres Guardado free from Deportivo
Sergio Canales & Fernando Gago both €5million each from Real Madrid
Joao Perreira €3.7million from Sporting Lisbon
Jonathan Vieira €2.5million from Las Palmas
Hedwiges Maduro free to Sevilla
Michel free to Levante
Angel Dealbert free to Kuban Krasnodar
Bruno Saltor free to Brighton
Aritz Aduriz €2million to Athletic Bilbao
Jordi Alba €14million to Barcelona
Mahmet Topal €4.5million to Fenerbahce
Miguel Angel Moya €1.8million to Getafe
One to Watch: Joao Perreira
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