Valencia to push for Champions League following solid run

Rodrigo

Valencia have forced their way back into the reckoning for a Champions League spot by the end of the season, following an unbeaten run of 11 La Liga games in 2019.

Marcelino’s last league defeat came in January at Alaves on January 5th, and they have risen up from 12th place at the turn of the year to 6th, as the season enters its final stage.

That consistency means they are on the tails of Getafe and Alaves, who are punching above their weight in 4th and 5th respectively.

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Valencia hopeful on securing a deal for Javier Hernandez

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Valencia are on the verge of securing a cut price deal for West Ham striker Javier Hernandez, within the La Liga January transfer window, according to media reports in Spain.

Hernandez, 30, has slipped down the pecking order at the London Stadium, and now the Mexican international looks to be heading for the exit.

However any move for the former Manchester United forward is dependent on the movement of other players, involving both The Hammers and Marcelino’s Valencia.

The La Liga side confirmed that Michy Batshuayi’s loan move at the club has been terminated earlier than anticipated, and they are not hopeful in securing a permanent deal for the Belgian international – with other clubs already negotiating with Chelsea for his signature.

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Rodrigo ready to step up for Valencia

Rodrigo

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.

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Guedes return to Valencia confirmed

Goncalo Guedes

Valencia have confirmed the signing of Portuguese international Goncalo Guedes for a fee of £35 million, ending their summer long pursuit of striker, ahead of the La Liga transfer deadline.

After impressing on loan at the Mestalla last season, Guedes was highlighted as a must-buy target by the club, alongside fellow loanee Geoffrey Kondogbia.

A permanent deal was sown up for midfielder Kondobia with Inter Milan at the start of the summer, however negotiations for Guedes have proved far more difficult.

Parent club PSG were well aware of both his performances in 2017-18, and Valencia’s willingness to bring him into the club on a permanent deal.

That has led to weeks of talks, with the deal seemingly dead just a few weeks ago, however Marcelino has pushed the club’s board hard to make sure that a deal was struck with the French champions.

Valencia have not been shy in the transfer market this summer, spending over £110 million in total, to bring in some stellar name on permanent and loan deals.

However within all of their dealings, the sense remained that Guedes was still Marcelino’s primary target, and his persistence has eventually paid off.

Guedes scored six goals in all competitions last season, as Valencia secured fourth place in La Liga, and a return to the Champions League for 2018-19.

However it was his pace and ability to get the rest of the team higher up the pitch that was his primary weapon for Valencia last season.

The link up between him, Santiago Mina and and Rodrigo Moreno, as part of a three man attack, was vital in pushing a counter attacking Valencia up the table, and posing an intermittent title challenge to Barcelona.

Valencia have started the season in low key fashion, drawing 1-1 at home to Atletico Madrid on the opening weekend, before losing 2-0 at Espanyol.

Summer signing Daniel Wass is essentially playing in Guedes’ role from last season, and whilst the former Celta Vigo man has positive aspects to his game, he does not possess the same raw speed and creativity.

Guedes has been signed in time for Valencia’s weekend trip to neighbours Levante, who have started the season with a win and a loss, but Marcelino is likely to only use him from the bench at the Ciutat de Valencia.

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Iago Aspas must start for Spain against Portugal

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Not long now until Spain take on Portugal in what’s expected to be one of the games of World Cup 2018.

Though Julen Lopetegui still remains unbeaten as Spain coach since taking the job from Vicente del Bosque, there’ve been a few worrying signs in their last two friendlies against Switzerland and Tunisia.

Neither side pose the same threat as Cristiano Ronaldo and Co., and yet they made life difficult for La Roja in their warm-up games for the tournament.

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Rodrigo Moreno set for World Cup shop window

Rodrigo

The World Cup always offers players a unique opportunity to showcase their talent, and potentially engineer a move away from their current club.

Transfer sagas are regularly an intriguing sub plot to international tournaments, and this summer’s World Cup promises to be the same.

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui caused ripples of controversy with his final 23-man squad for Russia, although given the plethora of options available to him, there was always going to be some tough choices to make.

In attack, Lopetegui has opted for form and freshness, rather than experience, with Diego Costa the only experienced striker in the squad.

The inclusions of Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno raised a few eyebrows, as they meant the exclusion of Alvaro Morata and Vitolo, but form dictates that they deserve their place.

Aspas has had another fine goal scoring season with Celta Vigo, whilst Rodrigo has fired Valencia back into the Champions League for 2018-19.

The Brazilian born front man made only his second competitive appearance for Spain in 2017, scoring against Albania.

His role in the squad if likely to be as an alternative to Costa’s style, either alongside the Atletico Madrid man, or in his place.

This season with Valencia his has offered a versatility, not always seen in previous seasons, developing a fantastic relationship with Simone Zaza and Goncalo Guedes.

With Zaza playing as a central forward, Rodrigo adapted and played wide of a front three, using his pace and directness to run beyond the Italian international.

In other games, in Zaza’s absence, he has played through the middle, his favoured position, providing a goal threat through his willingness to make runs and stretch defences.

His calmness in front of goal, registering 16 in La Liga, is also a real mark of his continuing development, proving he can be efficient and ruthless when chances fall his way.

In Russsia he will have the eyes of the world on him, and as a striker for Spain he will have the additional pressure of being the final piece of the jigsaw to their possession based play.

If he impresses, there will be links with other clubs, with efficient strikers, with pace, always on the radar of Europe’s top clubs.

Rodrigo will be mindful of the issues that former teammate Paco Alcacer has endured after moving to Barcelona, but he is more experienced and approaching the peak of his career.

Should Diego Costa make the Spain World Cup 23?

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Diego Costa has made quite the impression back at Atletico Madrid this season. Or should that be half season.

Unable to play matches until January, the striker had six months or so in which to stew, before making an earnest contribution.

His situation mirrored that of former team-mate Arda Turan when signing for Barcelona, though in Costa’s case, things have gone very much better.

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Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno tipped for World Cup spot

Rodrigo

With just over two months to go until the World Cup gets underway in Russia, attention inevitable begins to shift towards squad selection for the finals. 2010 champions Spain will once again be among the favourites to land football’s most prestigious prize, with boss Julen Lopetegui having an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.

There is only one burning question ahead of the squad selection: which strikers will make it onto the plane? In the most recent set of friendlies, Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno scored La Roja’s only goal against Germany before Diego Costa and Iago Aspas both found the net in the 6-1 demolition of Argentina. Continue reading