Written by active forum member Brownie. Valencia´s badge has a bat on it, as do many sporting clubs in this region. Whilst the origin of this tradition is unsure, it seems to date back to King Peter IV of Aragon, ruler of much of Eastern Spain in the 14th century, who wore armour featuring a dragon as a play on Peter D´Aragon. The red and yellow stripes are also remnants of the Aragon coat of arms.

Who are we playing then. Valencia? Alright.

After promising performances against Juve and Real Madrid, we´re now matched up against the other Spanish champions, the champions of Valencia, Valencia.

In actuality Valencia haven´t been champions of anything since 2008 when Silva, Mata, Villa and co. won them the Copa del Rey. Since then they´ve still been quite good but done a bit of an Everton in that they sell their best players every year and still manage to have no money. This year they´ve sacrificed Soldado, who´s been their main man for the last few years and will be a big miss for them up front. Like us though, they´re still a big club, pay good wages for Spain and generally sign cool players as replacements for their big guns. A few of the players they bring in are terrible despite having hairbands, ankle tape and wearing their socks over their knees, but the emphasis is always on technical quality, so you get a lot of people like me that enjoy them from afar.

They haven´t really made any major additions yet this summer, having signed Javi Fuego from Vallecano as a joke, Oriol Romeu on loan from Chelsea and Haedo ´Haedo´ Valdez on a permanent deal having scored a few great goals for them whilst on loan last season. Of those three Fuego played against Inter, presumably allowing Banega to play the more attacking role he started to thrive in last season. Ever scored twice against the Italians and is possibly the best player in the world, certainly the pick of the current crop of an always strong Argentinian influence at the club. Sergio Canales unfortunately is still injured so he´ll be stuck home doing rehab tuning into the game on Canales+. Most of their squad is quite good and as a rule they´re usually tactically sound, though they do have a new manager (again) so expect lots of shuffling around and strange players getting a few minutes.

As for Everton, Roberto seems to be convinced that everything we´ve done so far has been the perfect preparation for us as we look towards increasing the phenomenal volume, so it´s no surprise that he sees this game as a great opportunity. I think most fans would agree that the style of football we´ve played in pre-season has been good, if not somewhat lacking in end product. This unfortunately is the consequence of playing one striker, with the choices for that position being what they are, and a severe shortage of players that know how to score goals from elsewhere on the pitch. Nothing new for us there. Jelavic has scored a header from a corner, a nice little hit the goalkeeper and put in the rebound, and an excellent twisting finish against Real Madrid. Kone´s hit the bar and has a strong face, Victor is still massive and Vellios is having a nice time taking pictures of himself with other people. Unless one of them suddenly becomes amazing we could still do with a top class centre forward.

Midfield and defence have looked ok without being spectacular, everyone has had a turn and no one´s really looked out of place or uncomfortable with the new systems, which is quite impressive given the small amount of time they´ve had to work on them. Special mentions to Stones and Naismith who have both clearly worked hard to try to get up to the level required.

This game I´d expect us to match up Valencia´s 4231 as Martinez seems to like testing the players against good opposition by playing a similar system. This may mean we´ll see Ross Barkley vs Ever Banega in la battala de los 10s, which would be a great test for Ross and one I´d expect him to win with a ripped shot into the top corner from twenty yards. Realistically we´ll probably play 352 and individual errors will cause us to lose the game, but it´s nice to actually enjoy the pre-season football just for the football, no?


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