The Mestalla neon begins to sizzle on its way to lighting up and illuminating salvation. The switch was pressed by Rubén Baraja and Carlos Marchena, two of the heroes of the double in 2004 desperately recruited by the property, Meriton Holdings, after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso from the bench and the exhaustion of the Voro formula. At the risk of burning on the pyre of coaches that Peter Lim has singed, a dozen since 2014, and of compromising his legend as a footballer, Baraja, who has a canvas on the first ring of the Mestalla façade along with other legendary players, He only asked for one condition: that his friend Carlos Marchena arrive with him as assistant coach. “He is a person with a different character than mine. He is calmer and calmer. He helps in the message to the players, because he transmits it clearly and it gives me peace of mind and another opinion, ”said the man from Valladolid when he arrived.
“Now we shoot and, if the ball hits the post, it goes wide; the rivals shoot us and, if the ball hits the post, it becomes a goal against. But there comes a time when the situation clicks and the dynamics change, without really knowing how”, explained Pipo Baraja before colliding with Real Sociedad in Mestalla and after losing his first game in Getafe. The eleven of the bat beat Imanol’s men 1-0 with an own goal from the realist Zubeldia.
Then came the Camp Nou game where, in a controversial play, Alberola Rojas did not want the VAR to go in to review a possible penalty by Kessié on Fran Pérez near the end. Valencia lost 1-0 but also recovered in different aspects of the game. After that defeat, Baraja achieved his second victory against Osasuna in the four games he has been on the bench.
With that victory, and six points out of 12, the team moved up to 17th place in the table, the border between salvation and the abyss that leads to Second. With the same points as Getafe (26), Valencia comes out of relegation due to the goal difference in favor with the azulones. But the team has already clicked.
“We haven’t gotten our heads around anything, but I was delighted to see the happy players,” Baraja said after the victory. El Pipo, author of a prudent but realistic speech, does not forget the seriousness of the situation. “If we think that winning two games is all done, it will be a tremendous miscalculation,” he said yesterday before visiting Atlético today at the Metropolitano (9:00 p.m., DAZN).
The footballers that Baraja found, the squad with the youngest average age in the League, were helpless and confused after Gattuso’s escape. “I am a competitive type and that is not scared by anything. I will go, strong, to the front. I have come convinced to turn the situation around, ”he said upon his arrival. In just one month at the helm of the block, he has already won over a tender group without malice, who believes that with Baraja the probability of success is much greater than with Gattuso or Voro.
Waiting for it to show more details. Baraja, broadly speaking, has delayed the structure. He competes with a low or medium low block from which he intends to protect himself and deploy quickly in the defense-attack transition. He has shielded the team, has two clean sheets in four games, and concedes less. In the attack-defense transition he is more applied, he withdraws better, the number of players behind the ball has increased, and he has reduced spaces that can be used by the opponent near his area.
Set pieces are more elaborate. The release of the ball in the starting zone, always played, which marked the team with fire when it was directed by Gattuso, is no longer a priority, it is a possibility. Now play more times direct. Baraja has reduced risks and has recovered injuries. Gayà, Nico and Cavani are ready to improve the team. The next test is against Atlético.
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