If we grade the season from Valencia CF, as Miguel Quintana said in an interview to ELXIIDEAL, they are the team that has done the most merit to go down in relegation.
However, with their win against Celta (1-2) at Balaídos, last Sunday, they have climbed up to the 14th spot of the table three points above Getafe, which is the squad that marks the relegation area right now.
There is no doubt that the arrival of Rubén Baraja was not easy at all and, in fact, it was very questioned. He was a coach without experience in the first division and who was asked to run a team in relegation. Furthermore, at the beginning, Valencia were known for being a very weak team on the road, but that managed to scratch points at Mestalla to held themselves to the stay.
However, in these last five fixtures, the team seems to have bounced back and so they have picked up three wins, a draw and a defeat. The merit of this? The coach’s bravery to line up academy players such as Javi Guerra, Diego López and Alberto Marí, who have all astonished with their performances, showing great potential and saving key points in the battle to avoid relegation against direct opponents.
This focus on the young talent has changed the course of the team and has generated hope between the fans of Valencia. For example, 21 years old Alberto Marí gave the three points to valencia in their last game versus Celta with a header in the 88th minute. In addition, he also scored what it would have been a 93rd winner goal in the previous game against Villarreal, but it was disallowed due to an offside.
In the case of Javi Guerra, everyone knew that Valencia’s midfield was a mess and that players like Guillamón, Ilaix or Yunus were not working out as expected, which is why the 20 years old rising couldn’t have come in a better moment.
The midfielder, who had already had some minutes against Sevilla and Elche, showed up and scored a 93rd minnute winner at home against Valladolid with barely a minute on the field.
A great shot from outside the box gave Valencia the three points and that way he earned both the heart from the crowd and the confidence from coach Baraja. Javi Guerra has come in order to provide with the muscle and the talent that Valencia’s midfield was missing that much.
Furthermore, for the good of Valencia fans, the club has taken care of extending his contract until 2027 before it expired this summer and including a 100 million euros release clause.
Diego López has not been lucky enough so far to score with Valencia yet, but he is a winger that is adding that verticality that Valencia needed that much. The ’40’ creates a lot of danger in the wing and is fast and talented at dribbling. He has given so far an assist to Kluivert in the last game the day he started for his first time.
Valencia have had a very difficult season. They seemed to have an exciting squad that under Gattuso and they were even 7th, but then they fell all the way down in the table and are now in trouble both due to the poor management from the board of directors and their low performing on the field.
However, in these last few games, the team has shown an improvement under the leadership from Rubén Baraja and the discovery of the young talented players from the academy mentioned above, who have all been key in this transformation process.
Nevertheless, the relegation ghost is still there, the distance is still short and Valencia must keep their momentum until the end of the season. After their crucial win against Real Madrid, now they have three finals left against Mallorca on the road, Espanyol at home and Betis away.
Valencia have way more to battle for in these last four games than just staying. They are battling for their status, history and future. Going down would be an sporting and financial drama that could have terrible consequences.
But Baraja seems to have found his amulet on the academy players to not go down, the antidote to a roster full of players on loan that do not care about the shield.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Edit Marta Calle.