After years of mediocrity Los Che are back and now look like they can finally challenge again in Spanish La Liga as they remain unbeaten along with Blaugranas and Atletico Madrid.
After Atletico Madrid’s win in La Liga in the season 2013-14, the only team to win Primera Division was Valencia in 2002 and 2004. They were the nation’s third big club with seven La Liga tittle in hall of Fame in Mestallia.
As well as those triumphs, the Mestalla-based side also reached back-to-back Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, losing to Real Madrid and then to Bayern Munich. And in 2004, they won the UEFA Cup. Times were good.
Even a poor season under Ronald Koeman in 2007-08 ended in Valencia winning the Copa del Rey and, with Unai Emery as the coach, Los Che finished in third place in the Primera Division for three successive seasons in 2010,2011 and 2012.
The unsatisfaction came to the fans when they saw the big names like Juan Mata, David Villa and David Silva leave the club to join the other Europe’s big teams and were forced to leave their stadium half-built due to financial debts.
New hopes arrived when Valencia returned to the Champions League in 2015 but the hopes didn’t last as expected after the coach Nuno was gone that season. In his place came Gary Neville with no top-level experience and turned out to be the disaster for the club losing 7-0 to Barca and bringing them from Champions League to the brink of relegation.
Recovery has taken time. A 12th-place finish in 2015-16 was followed by a repeat of that position last season and Valencia were no longer seen as a top team in Spain.
But now Valencia are back, they are in phenomenal form this season securing seventh consecutive wins after beating Leganes 3-0 on Saturday at Mestalla setting a new club record, thanks to goals from Dani Parejo, Rodrigo Marino and Santi Mina.
Coach Marcelino Garcia Toral has been key to their success. The Asturian has had success wherever he has been, taking Recreativo Huelva into La Liga and securing an eighth-placed finish with the Andalusians, securing promotion during crisis of Real Zaragoza, steering Racing Santander to their best-ever placing of seventh in the Primera Division and enjoying further success with Villarreal, leaving the Yellow Submarine in the Champions League before his surprise sacking last year.
Marcelino’s focus and obsession of diet have been the key for Valencia players.The strict diet schedule and regular practice session improved the quality of the squad.
“It is difficult in the beginning, you go through bad time ,you feel hungry but your body adapts. Now i feel more agile and faster” said midfielder Dani Parejo.
Dani Parejo has been a revelation in the mid field this season. Parejo had made a decision to switch Camp Nou from Mestallia but the 28-year old changed his mind when he found out that Marcelino is joining the club.
Its not only Parejo who has been transformed by Marcelino but other players who have not performed well last season including Jose Luis Gaya, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Montoya, Rodrigo and Simone Zaza, have been excellent. Simone Zaza the 26-year old Italian stricker who was flop at West ham and has a disappointing 2016-17 season has won Septembers player of the month award and scored eight goals this season in La Liga.
The new signings who arrived have also performed well under Marcelino. New goalkeeper Neto has been excellent and no worries if there is no Diego Alves. Gabriel Paulista has impressed at the back.
“Marcelino told me he would going to change everything in Valencia and he stood by his words” said Defender Gabriel Paulista.
Los Che won just one of their first four LaLiga matches, though they secured draws against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in that span, before surging up the table.
In one of the most important matches of their season against the table-toppers, FC Barcelona, Valencia managed a really hard-fought draw. They were in the lead before Alba scored on a cross from Messi.
All in all the team this season looks pretty pumped up to get the things going and it would be interesting to see where they go from here.