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Evolution or Revolution – Valencia


Evolution or Revolution is a new series from Stats Perform looking at which teams need only a few tweaks ahead of the 2020/21 season and which require a fundamental reboot. Luis Ledesma argues that Valencia are one of those sides that need radical improvements. 

By: Luis Ledesma

Defensively Fragile

After two seasons under Marcelino García Toral, in which Valencia were rock solid in defence – ranked fourth in 2017/18 with 38 goals conceded, and second with 35 in 2018/19 – the team lost their defensive rigidity last season.

Valencia conceded a total of 53 goals in LaLiga in 2019/20, 18 more than last season, and more than Leganés (51) who were relegated.

It could have been worse. Valencia were ranked fourth-worst in terms of Expected Goals Against (xGA) (56.6) last term, with only three teams conceding more.

As is suggested by their high goals conceded tally last season, Valencia allowed opposition sides to pepper their goal with shots. Only Levante (578) allowed more shots at goal than Valencia (572) and Che team suffered their highest shots against per game figure in the league since 2003/04 (15). With experienced defender Ezequiel Garay released by the club following a serious injury, and four other defenders’ loans expiring, Valencia are struggling for depth at the back.

Stats Perform Verdict: REvolution Required

A Real Lack of Intensity

Valencia ranked second in terms of most shots on target faced in LaLiga last season (192). Notably, 35% of these came from shots outside the box (68).

Shots On Target Conceded Outside Box - LaLiga 19/20

TeamShots On Target Conceded Outside BoxShots On Target Conceded Inside BoxShots On Target Conceded
Valencia CF68124192
Granada CF56100156
Atlético de Madrid5262114

Looking ahead to 2020/21, new manager Javi Gracia will want to bring an increase in Valencia’s intensity as a way to stop opponents from laying siege to the Che goal. No team conceded fewer fouls than Valencia in LaLiga last season and no other team made fewer tackles than the Che team. Gracia will need to instil more of a physical, fighting attitude in his side next term.

Stats Perform Verdict: REvolution Required

Get The Ball To Your Best Player

Valencia have one of the best number nines in the league in their squad, Maxi Gómez. The Uruguayan scored 10 goals in LaLiga 2019/20, with none of them coming from the spot. He recorded the highest expected goals (xG) differential of any player excluding penalties, scoring almost five goals more than the model suggests he ought to have scored.  Valencia would do well to keep serving him the ball, but their lack of creativity is stark. They created just 6.3 chances per 90 minutes last season, the second-lowest figure of any team.  Valencia will have to find a way to carve out more opportunities for their main man.

LaLiga Biggest xG Differential (ex. Penalties)

PlayerGoals (ex. penalties)Expected Goals (ex. penalties)xG differential (ex. Penalties)
Maxi Gómez105.314.69
Lionel Messi2015.984.02
Óscar Rodríguez73.223.78
Gerard Moreno1713.733.27
Ansu Fati73.83.2

Stats Perform Verdict: Evolution Required

Despite their wild bouts of inconsistency, this is a Valencia side with the talent and budget to improve on their disappointing season last term.

Review other pieces in this series:
Manchester United
Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City
Leeds United
West Brom
Real Sociedad

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