Schalke 3-1 Valencia: Schalke surprisingly go through after open second leg

March 10, 2011

The starting line-ups

Valencia had plenty of chances, but Schalke were more clinical.

Felix Magath made two changes from the first leg, both enforced. Sergio Escudero replaced the suspended Lukas Schmitz at left-back, whilst Mario Gavranovic came in for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who was out with a knee injury.

Having played a fluid system in the first leg that had no set shape, Unai Emery selected a standard 4-2-3-1 system here. The major news was that Artiz Aduriz started upfront, with Roberto Soldado on the bench.

Like all the second legs this week, this was a very open game – the tie was in the balance, but both wanted to attack.

Formations

Schalke went in with a system best defined as a 4-4-2, but there was a complex nature to the system when attacks developed. Jurado would immediately come in from the left and take up a central playmaking role, allowing Raul to move forward to become a second central striker. To solve the problem with width on the left, Peer Kluge would move towards that side of the pitch. On the other flank, Jefferson Farfan stayed much wider, and turned out to be the game’s key player.

Valencia played an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 system. They tended to press at times and sit back on other occasions – when they did defend aggressively, they often looked like 4-2-4. The wingers helped push back the Schalke defence, and Juan Mata often got a lot of space in between the lines – he played a couple of great passes.

Patterns of play

Schalke sent many crosses into the box - almost one every two minutes - mostly from the right

Partly because Valencia seemed to defend in different ways at different times, the game went through many phases. Schalke started well and focused on keeping possession of the ball in non-threatening areas before working it down the right – but then Valencia upped their game and dominated the rest of the first half. Valencia were obviously more comfortable on the ball in midfield, and when one of Schalke’s forwards was slow to get back into the midfield zone, Valencia took the most of their extra man in midfield.

There was a lack of creativity in open play, however. The goals came from set-pieces (Ricardo Costa stayed up in the area after a corner to head in, and Farfan curled in a free-kick). Jeremy Mathieu started brightly (as he had in the first game) but none of the full-backs had a consistent impact on the game.

Second half

Valencia should have scored numerous second half goals – Schalke tried to defend higher up the pitch, but Aduriz got chances on the break from balls over the top. His finishing was poor.

At the other end, having spent the game chucking crosses into the box from the right, Schalke went ahead with a scrappy goal after ball from the left. Vicente Guaita flapped at the cross, Gavranovic squeezed the ball in. Four of the first five goals in the tie had come from left-wing crosses – which was a surprise, as neither side had particularly looked to work down that side of the pitch.

Substitutions

Magath’s strategy at 2-1 was interesting – he kept both his forwards on to provide an attacking threat, and made changes in the midfield. Kyriakos Papadopoulos replaced Joel Matip in the holding role – Papadopoulos can play as a centre-back and played slightly deeper than Matip. Julien Draxler came on, and kept hold of the ball excellently.

Valencia frequently lost possession when their attackers tried to dribble past defenders on the edge of the box

Emery made three changes in ten minutes and Valencia went all-out-attack. They found spaces in the midfield and created some decent chances, but the more they pushed forward, the more Schalke got chances on the break. Gavranovic chipped the ball onto the bar from 40 yards, and eventually Farfan sealed the win. On the balance of play Valencia deserved something, but they simply missed too many chances.

Conclusion

The game was summed up by a fantastic analysis/rant from Emery after the final whistle.

“Maybe there have been games in the league where we didn’t deserve to win and that good luck deserted us this time. With everything in our favour we’ve ended up losing. It’s incomprehensible. At 1-0 up we had the game under control, with chances to hit them on the counter-attack, and then they go and equalise.

Then, in the second half, without creating much, they go 2-1 up. Then we have four chances and we don’t take any. We’ve been knocked out unjustly, we’ve missed an opportunity with everything in our favour. It was a game where we had more chances and we lost. I went back into the dressing room so disappointed that I couldn’t say anything to the players, but I have nothing to blame them for.”

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Schalke 3-1 Valencia: Schalke surprisingly go through after open second leg

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