Monday, August 27, 2007

Temper Tantrum in Valencia

A giant nightmare was more like it—for Valencia’s players (who as their frustration grew, behaved more and more like ill-tempered children), their manager Quique Sanchez Flores, and most certainly the faithful supporters who had flocked to the Estadio Mestalla to watch the team battle it out with Villarreal in a first match of the season derby. Perhaps the ongoing feud over money (of course!) between Audiovisual Sport and Mediapro should’ve penalized the showing of this match instead of yesterday’s Madrid derby and today’s Barcelona match against Racing Santander. I’ve no doubt that the faithful Valencia fans crammed inside the bars or at home to watch the game figured the same after such a desultory result.

Both teams are attractive, mischievously attacking squads and—despite some fallow periods last season, especially Villarreal—finished 4th (Valencia) and 5th (Villarreal) respectively. Both are contenders for top spots this season as well. But despite some early momentum courtesy of Valencia’s Joaquin, who can consistently test the opposition whenever he sprints and weaves up the right wing (which is a lot), delivering potentially deadly crosses for certain goal, today just wasn’t going to be his day. Nor for anyone on that bedraggled Valencia squad. Niether of the Davids (Silva or Villa) could flex their creativity either and when the normally crafty, deadly Villa went down a little too easily in the box, bent on drawing a penalty but earning a second yellow for the cowardly dive instead in a desperate bid to even things up, the night seemed all but over. Not quite so fast, though. There was still some beatdown to go. Villarreal, who played with complete cohesiveness and fidelity toward their mission to pick up where they left off at the end of last season when they went on a blistering end of the season run (I don’t recall how many wins in a row; was it eight?) dominated throughout and certainly knew how to finish off poor Valencia with a 3-0 win. They may no longer have the idiosyncratic Uruguayan striker Forlan up front (he fled for Atletico Madrid at the end of last season) and the gloomy prince Riquelme may not be long for them (he desperately wants to return to Boca Juniors, even requesting that he’d play for free), but Villarreal—the little Yellow Submarine that seems determined to stay firmly in La Liga—likewise looks determined to do fine without them. Two red cards for Valencia (Villa, Joaquin); three goals for Villarreal (Tomassen, Rossi, Cazorla); and probably no wine shared between the two managers after the match.

I wasn’t in the best mood leading up to the game. Primed, though not necessarily bushy-tailed for the 10:00 am (Pacific Time) opening match between Racing Santander and Barcelona, only to see that the game was not going to be televised due to the ongoing Spanish television rights war. No matter, I guess, since it seems Barca performed poorly and were lucky to slip away with a point from the 0-0 draw. Ugh. It’s still early, right? No need to panic yet. Right? Right?

1 comment:

Linda said...

It was eight wins, yes, and they played some great stuff to do it, too.

I think it's far too early to start worrying about Barca, although we do need to start winning away soon.