Can Valencia challenge Real Madrid for La Liga’s second place?

The side are second in the league against all odds and still unbeaten in this campaign. But can the strugglers of last season take second place?

Last season, Valencia were the shock flops of La Liga. Eventually, they finished safely in mid-table; but that wasn’t before languishing in the nether regions of the Spanish top flight for most of the season, struggling under managers Pako Ayestarán and Cesare Prandelli.

Luckily for Los Che, ever-present interim coach Voro steadied the ship, with an unimpressive but sufficient 44% win record across his two temporary spells at the helm.

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The club’s Singaporean owner Peter Lim failed to replace a number of big-name departures including Paco Alcácer and André Gomes as his connections to super-agent Jorge Mendes proved less advantageous than expected.

They ended the campaign in 13th; their lowest placing in La Liga since the 1987-88 season.

Things were looking up at the beginning of this season for fans of Los Che, with the club bringing in the likes of Neto from Juventus, Inter Milan’s Geoffrey Kondogbia and exciting young attacker Gonçalo Guedes from Paris Saint-Germain.

West Ham United catastrophe Simone Zaza also joined from Juve and, so far, the Italian is flipping journalists the figurative bird.

Zaza has netted nine times in ten league outings for Valencia this season; second only to Lionel Messi in the division’s scoring chart.

Meanwhile, youthful talents such as Carlos Soler and Guedes, who I mentioned previously, have also been on fire.

The pair have provided nine assists and four goals between them to help the side to a current second place, four points above Real Madrid.

Manager Marcelino joined the club in May off the back of a successful stint last year with the club’s rivals Villarreal.

The boss is still unbeaten in the league and is now being touted as one of Europe’s most promising upcoming coaches.

Marcelino’s side meet Leganés on November 5 after six victories on the trot. Forwards Simone Zaza, Rodrigo and Santi Mina have scored 19 goals overall and the rest of the side are on fire.

Despite their excellent league positions, the likes of Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal have failed to put in the performances showcased by Valencia so far.

Atlético remain unbeaten too, but have drawn half of their matches, whilst Sevilla and Villarreal have lost three games each.

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Real Madrid are another club worth talking about. They entered this season with a view to winning it.

Their side looked stronger than Barcelona’s, however, big name departures such as James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata may prove to be errors in hindsight

Cristiano Ronaldo is in his usual fine fettle so far and fans and the media alike are suggesting his advancing years may be about to start showing.

Madrid lost to Manchester City’s sister club Girona last time out before taking a Champions League thumping from Tottenham Hotspur in the week.

The side face relegation candidates Las Palmas on Sunday, which should be a breeze, but, so far, their firepower hasn’t quite matched Valencia’s.

Los Che are stacked with quality across the field.

Former Juventus keeper Neto is proving superb between the sticks, while Ezequiel Garay and Inter Milan loanee Jeison Murillo have excelled at centre-half and the side’s attacking players have been in fine form.

I’m not convinced that Valencia have the level of star quality to maintain their position and I believe Real Madrid will pip them to second.

Valencia as runners-up would be a welcome change in La Liga but it’s challenging to suggest that the sheer prowess of Ronaldo, Sergio Asensio, Marcelo et al will allow any other club to occupy to the second place position.

The Author

George Hartley

I'm George Hartley - a young, eager football writer based in the West Midlands. My interests lie in European football and I write about La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and a host of other divisions. I am an avid Aston Villa supporter.

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