Rodrigo ready to step up for Valencia


Following Spain’s impressive dismantling of England and World Cup finalists Croatia in midweek, attention turns back to La Liga, with players looking to replicate those performances for their clubs.

Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez was arguably the stand out performer across the two games, with a goal in both matches, with Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantra and Real Madrid star Marco Asensio also impressing.

However the main scrutiny was on Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno, making his tenth international appearance against Gareth Southgate’s team.

Striker issues have been a problem for Spain in recent years, with Alvaro Morata failing to fill the void left by David Villa and Fernando Torres.

Diego Costa was the preferred option to the lead in the World Cup, but the abrasive former Chelsea man does have his detractors.

With Costa ruled out through injury for this double-header, Rodrigo was charged with being the main man, flanked by Iago Aspas and Asensio.

He enjoyed a fine season in 2017-18, netting 19 goals in all competitions for Valencia, and providing a focal point for their counter-attacking style.

But with Spain the pressure is even greater, and the spotlight has often proven too much for other strikers, but Rodrigo is thriving.

His movement and physical presence meant that Costa’s absence was not as sorely felt, but it was his goal scoring instinct that saw him net against both England and Croatia.

His goal at Wembley was all about anticipation, waiting to make the run across two defenders to score. In Elche, against Croatia, he bent his run to stay onside, before accelerating away from a defender to finish calmly.

His confidence will be high as Valencia take on Real Betis at home this weekend, and he looks ready to step a level.

If Valencia want to remain in the top four this season, they will need a goal scorer that is able to get close to the numbers of Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.

The early signs look that Rodrigo could be the man to do just that, as despite scoring just once in the opening three games of the La Liga season, his time away with the national team will have him bang in form.

The structure of the team around him at Valencia also benefits his style of play, with width and pace offered by Santiago Mina, and new signing Goncalo Guedes, who he excelled alongside last season.

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