Valencia CF 2-1 Manchester United: 5 Talking Points, UEFA Champions League 2018-19
Manchester United and Valencia clashed in their final Champions League game which was a dead rubber. Manchester United had already secured their qualification to the next stage and Valencia were confirmed of the Europa League spot. Yet, there was one thing undecided, that is the group winners. Manchester had a very slim yet a chance to top the group if they defeated Valencia and Juventus somehow fell to Young Boys.
Jose Mourinho rotated his squad with qualification guaranteed. Sergio Romero took his place between the posts as David de Gea was rested. Chris Smalling was rested with Phil Jones taking his place. Marcos Rojo started ahead of Ashley Young and summer signing Fred started alongside Pogba and Fellaini in the middle. Andreas Pereira got a rare start for the Reds.
Valencia started with their strongest possible 11 with nothing but pride to play for. The odd one out was Jaume Domenech who replaced Neto between the sticks. Denis Cheryshev also got a place in the starting 11. The rest, Santi Mina, Kondogbia, Parejo, Soler, Batshuayi, all started against the Red Devils.
Manchester United's night got off to a horrific start as Valencia took the lead as early as the quarter hour mark. Carlos Soler rolled the ball in between the legs of Bailly which left Sergio Romero flat-footed. The second half saw Jose Mourinho trying to make amends by replacing Rojo with Ashley Young.
Although United tried to attack with more intent, it was short-lived as United ended up conceding another goal from a Valencia counter-attack in the 47th minute. Mourinho further tried to salvage something out of the game by introducing Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.
Rashford got one back for the Red Devils late in the 87th minute but it was too little too late for Manchester United as they fell to Valencia at the Mestalla.
Here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Valencia could be a force to reckon with in Europa League
In spite of the Champions League being the bigger and better European Competition, the addition of Champions League sides to the second-tier European contest would add flair to it. With English power-houses Chelsea and Arsenal already running wild in the group stages, along with AC Milan, Sevilla, Real Betis, and Villarreal, the competition has got some early front-runners.
Now, Napoli, Inter Milan, and Valencia are going to be added to the list of title favourites. Valencia has been underwhelming in both the league and Europe in terms of performance. But the team has some good young performers who could lead the team to victories. They put up a good performance against Real Madrid despite losing 2-0. Yesterday against United, again they put up a good performance.
There have been moments of spark from the Valencia team throughout the season be it a gritty performance against Barcelona or in the Champions League. If Valencia are going to play the same brand of football that they did against Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United, this team could lift a European silverware.