Real Valladolid visited Girona FC at the Municipal de Montilivi but left with no points in a 2-1 loss to the Gironistes. Pacheta’s Valladolid ran a 4-1-4-1 and Míchel’s Girona came out in a 3-4-2-1. A clear night in Girona with perfect football conditions created an atmosphere for two high pressing and high tempo teams to go to battle on the pitch. Valladolid picked up two yellows and were constantly aggressive pressing in their attacking third of the pitch. They consistently used the wings to attack the Girona defense with pace and tempo. Then Valladolid would cut inside and utilized a plethora of long shots from their attackers, scoring one from Monchu, assisted by Roque Mesa. In contrast, Girona scored both their goals in the box, their first being a cut back cross from Aleix Garcia to Reiner and the second coming from a free kick that was headed to Oriol Romeu who scored a header himself. Despite the loss, Valladolid dominated possession in this game, but the chances between the two sides were even at 14 shots a piece. Also appearing in this game was Arnau Martinez, who I covered in July. He made his second career La Liga start for Girona and looked up to the task as a playmaker and defender at right wingback.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Spain
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 13/09/1999
- Club: Real Valladolid
- Career: RCD Mallorca (Y), FC Barcelona (Y), Girona (Loan), Granada
- Position: Central Midfielder
- Preferred foot: Right
Monchu Rodriguez stands at a short and lean 173 cm but has a quick and rapid presence for his club at the left central midfielder position. He combined this with a high work rate that saw him trek all over the pitch, as he ran over 9.6 km in this match. Monchu also used his low center of gravity to easily turn defenders in midfield, showcasing high level agility that helped outweigh his woes in the strength category. He also communicated very well and commanded respect from his teammates.
Monchu played the full match and scored Real Valladolid’s only goal with a long shot. He had several long shot attempts in this game, all with good finishing prowess, as he shot with placement and power, testing the keeper each time. To go along with long shots, Monchu was the club’s main set piece man this match. He took almost every corner or free kick, but most were cleared away. Monchu must have been better at taking them in previous games because the trust in him by Pacheta despite poor placement on free kicks and corners all game was there until the final minute. Monchu had a ball fall to him in the box, too, and he went for the top right corner, but was denied by a deflection. If there was no obstruction, the placement on that shot was good enough to finish.
As a playmaker, Monchu had a couple chipped balls to create chances in and around the box and a long driven through ball to push the tempo and put Valladolid in attack mode. His normal ball distribution was comfortable and even when pressured he was not troubled. He could use both feet well to get himself out of situations with defenders, but he went for the preferred right foot most times in this game. When dribbling between defenders and trying to get past them 1v1, Monchu’s dribbling was technical and sneaky. His feet move very quick when he is running and that helps with the movement of the ball in his dribble moves past defenders. One slight, quick step from him in a 1v1 and he slipped by his defender, or he got fouled, which happened twice. Engaging in these duels does mean a successful tackle is put on him at times, so there is still room to grow with his dribbling.
Aerially, Monchu had moments in the game where his size and lack of meaningful physicality were not obvious. He won a few headers, but on a few occasions, he did not try to go for the ball in the air, especially if the duel he had to engage in involved a bigger opponent. Despite his inconsistencies in the air, Monchu put his work rate on a pedestal when getting open off ball. He constantly looked for moments to make a run through when his fellow attackers were trying to find the next pass advancing in high or settled tempo. In midfield, Monchu flashed to the ball and met the ball. A lot of the link up play went through him because of his off-ball movement and ability to get open.
Defensively, he put his pace and work rate to the test in the high press. Monchu pursued in his attacking third with needed aggression (this resulted in a foul once), overwhelming his opponent sometimes. Because of this, he was able to stick his foot in for a couple successful tackles. He had one missed slide tackle, but it proved to be inconsequential. When the defense was settled, Monchu always knew how much space he needed between him and his marker. Overall, the effort on defense was there and he was serviceable, but his timing was off in a few instances like the slide tackle, and it caused him to get sloppy.
Rating – A2
Monchu was the best player on the pitch for Valladolid in the first half and followed that with a good second. He is a hard-working offensive 8 that provides leadership at the top tier and is still young—I can very much see the Barcelona Academy education in his game. With that, Monchu has a place in La Liga for a long time. I still see some room for him to grow before he hits his ceiling, and from this game he must be very underrated as he played like a seasoned veteran. If Valladolid get unlucky and remain in the relegation zone this season, Monchu does not deserve to play Segunda Division football. A club like Girona or Celta Vigo will surely make a move for him as he fits their styles well.
- Nationality: Ecuador
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 01/11/2000
- Club: Real Valladolid
- Career: Independiente del Valle, Sporting CP
- Position: Right Winger
- Preferred foot: Left
- Other position(s): Left Winger
Gonzalo Plata played right winger in this match, cutting inside with is dominant left. He played 76 minutes and ran 8.3 km before being subbed off. He sports a lanky 178 cm build and has long pacy strides. Plata showed an above average work rate in this match and had big bursts off pace. To pair with elite acceleration, he held up strong when shoulder to shoulder or pushed in this match despite being such a young winger.
On the ball, Plata was very willing to use both feet. The strength was not quite there in the weaker right, as he misplaced a couple crosses with it and it got him into some trouble when dribbling in 1v1s, too. When dribbling he showed neat technique and control, at one point nearly succeeding on a flick past his defender, but the pressure of making the decision of passing or shooting when in the final third seemed to put Plata off. He hesitated, losing the ball in vital areas more than once all because he waited too long for a decision. In the midfield, his passes were quick and decisive under pressure, though. Additionally, he was comfortable as a ball carrier, advancing the ball up the pitch with ease multiple times, gliding past defenders with is pace.
Plata looked to finish a few times in this game. Once, he was blocked for a corner when shooting with his right and another was a simple save on a header in the box. In one shot opportunity, he decided to roll a short pass to Mesa, instead, who hit a long shot that got close to the target. He did look to create in this game like with the poorly hit right-footed crosses, but mostly amounted to nothing. Plata made a give and go opportunity for himself, but his teammate did not take it. It showed football IQ for Plata, though, who was looking to get in behind the defense all game. There was one long lifted through ball he nearly got underneath before the keeper that really showcased his pace. When Plata would make runs in the final third, they would be different. He would cut inside looking for the ball on his stronger left foot rather than running straight ahead like when operating in transition. Along with his threatening runs, Plata would frequently try to draw a foul. He nearly did so in the box, but VAR ruled not as play went on.
On defense, Plata was not much involved other than in the initial high press on possession loss. Here, he utilized his pace to cause pressure, and his athleticism did visibly bother the attacker at times. In one instance, Plata’s pressing worked out and he poked the ball free with his foot to regain possession. Overall, there is room for improvement defensively, but not much is asked of him. Plata does what is needed from a winger in this system.
Rating – B2
Gonzalo Plata had moments of brilliance in this match but lacked true wow-factor. His physical abilities and natural traits with the ball has him bursting with potential, but he needs to put them together and add more technique to succeed at this level. Taking his ball control to a new level would be a great next step. Plata is an average winger at the La Liga level, judging by this performance. His overall abilities intrigue me, though, so I will have to watch Plata again to see if he can let them shine a bit more than in this loss to Girona.
- Nationality: Spain
- Age: 17
- Date of birth: 28/09/2004
- Club: Real Valladolid
- Career: CF Quijorna (Y), EFMO Boadilla (Y), Real Madrid (Y), Leganes (Y)
- Position: Right Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Iván Fresneda is a 182 cm tall sturdy-built right back that came on in the 28th minute for the injured Luis Pérez. Despite his age, he displayed strength to ward off grown men in duels. Fresneda also has nice burst and more than decent pace to pair with it. His work rate is also high and that led to him flying around the pitch to make plays when he was subbed on.
Throughout the match, Fresneda’s defensive fundamentals helped to close the age gap between him and most of his teammates and competitors. His close out and break down on his marker was consistent and always left the right amount of space and left his body in a position to make a play on the ball. In several 1v1 situations Fresneda was able to make a tackle to get the ball away, whether he was backpedaling in a dangerous transition or dealing with an attacker in the box. Fresneda also made some blocks and interceptions. His timing in general when playing the ball was perfect and he hardly missed, his defensive instincts were so astute in this match. When Fresneda needed to recover, he was very quick to track pack and his recovery speed put him in good positions in an instant. He put his pace to good use defensively. Fresneda put that pace to use in pressing, too, by engaging his opponent and causing frustration. The one drawback to his defensive performance was allowing the headed assist on the game-winning goal. He got out bodied for the ball in his own box. Up until that sequence it was hard to believe Fresneda is only 17.
Offensively, Fresneda only attempted short easy passes when he got the ball. He was composed most of the time on ball, but if more than one person was in his area, he felt the pressure and it was much easier for him to misplace a simple pass. Fresneda was also very one-footed, I do not think there was a time in the game when he used his left. Fresneda did not pose too much of an offensive threat, but his support runs were always there and usually open if needed by his teammates. Fresneda’s position tended to invert when on offense, but when Plata would make inverted runs, Fresneda would make overlapping ones to counteract. He created a single chance in this game, passing to Monchu before he attempted a long shot. Overall, Fresneda’s offense in this game showed that he is still a work in progress as a senior player.
Rating – B2
I could have given Fresneda a C here, but I see some potential in his game. He has a very strong base as a defender already and held his own against La Liga competition. He is also a right back so the urgency on his offensive game improving is not high stakes. The combination of these two factors and his age are likely a good recipe for success. As a defensive-minded right back, Fresneda reminded me of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the way he dominates 1v1s down the right flank. Fresneda could be doing just that one day. Hopefully he gets more opportunities with Valladolid this season or they loan him out to a Segunda Division club like CD Tenerife. Tenerife just transferred former starting right back Shaq Moore, and he is a decent comparison for Fresneda, too.