2020/21 so far ....
As the international break arrived following the opening five fixtures of the 2020/21 LaLiga season, Real Valladolid found themselves rock bottom of the standings.
Here is a quick catch-up for what has happened since Pucela Escocia last went to press:
The 2019/20 season was suspended due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, but play resumed in June and the matches came thick and fast as teams sought to see out the campaign in a condensed schedule. Real Valladolid ended the season on a high with a 2-0 win at the José Zorrilla against Real Betis to finish in 13th position, an improvement of three league places and one point on the year before.
There was movement in the summer transfer window. We said goodbye to Turkish striker, Enes Ünal who returned to Villarreal from his second loan spell at the club and ultimately moved to Getafe on a permanent deal to team up with another ex-blanquivioleta forward, Jaime Mata. Stand-out defender Mohammed Salisu made his much-anticipated move to the English Premier League when he signed a lucrative contract with Southampton. The mysterious Stiven Plaza, the very first singing of Ronaldo’s presidential era, left on loan to Trabzonspor in Turkey on a two-year deal. Goalkeeper José Antonio Caro, who played a handful of matches in the latter stage of the season after the pandemic break and struggled significantly, was loaned out again to Ponferradina in the Segunda.
Considerable controversy surrounded young striker Miguel, who signalled his intention to leave the club for recently-relegated Leganés with a series of cryptic and downright childish Instagram posts. He saw this move blocked by his club, but – after much deliberation with the Spanish football federation – he eventually left on loan to the Madrid-based side. The situation continues to develop with Real Valladolid threatening to involve the courts, and this bad blood looks set to continue for some time.
However, reinforcements arrived throughout the summer to bolster the squad. Firstly came Chilean midfielder Fabián Orellana from S.D. Eibar in an attempt to provide an increased number of scoring opportunities for a side who bagged just 32 goals, the least of any team outside the relegated pair of Espanyol (27) and Leganés (30). Even Real Mallorca, the third team to drop down to Segunda, managed 40.
Defensive pairing Luis Pérez (a right-back from Tenerife) and Bruno González (centre-back, free agent) were brought in the offset the loss of Salisu and to provide cover for the injured Javi Sánchez and Kiko Olivas, the latter receiving a knee injury which will keep him out until approximately March 2021.
With Caro departing, Sergio signed former Espanyol, Málaga, Deportivo Alavés and West Ham goalkeeper to challenge the incumbent Jordi Masip. Caro’s less-than-convincing displays in his few starts showed that it was essential to bring in a quality stopper in case of any injuries to the first-choice Masip.
By far the most anticipated arrival of the summer was that of Shon Weissman, an Israeli international striker who had been plying his trade in the Austrian Bundesliga and had seen out the 2019/20 season as top scorer with 37 goals in 40 appreances. It is hoped that he can provide the scoring spark missing from the Real Valladolid front line since Mata’s departure in the summer of 2018.
On the field, the season kicked off with a home clash with Real Sociedad, one of the most improved teams in the league over the last few years. Pucela took the lead when Sergi Guardiola’s good work on the right set up Míchel to open the scoring. However, an uncharacteristic mistake from Masip saw him concede a long-range freekick and the visitors left with a share of the points.
In their second outing, a 2-0 away loss at Real Betis, further injury woes beset the blanquivioletas. Captain Javi Moyano limped off in the early stages of the match and was joined on the sideline by Joaquín. The latter’s consistency and flexibility last season was one of the keys to the team’s good defensive record and, ultimately, their survival in the top division.
This prompted further action in the transfer market as defensive cover became a priority. Morroccan centre-back Jawad El Yamiq swapped the Italian Serie A for LaLiga as he moved from Genoa on a four-year deal and was joined at the start of October by Swiss journeyman Saidy Janko who had laterally been with Young Boys on loan from parent club F.C. Porto. Janko’s arrival at right-back paved the way for the departure of Moyano after five seasons in the blanquivioleta.
The season continued without a win as Real Valladolid drew at home to Celta 1-1 and lost narrowly away to champions Real Madrid by a solitary goal as they gave a good account of themselves against the side from the capital and arguably deserved more from the contest than they got.
Heading into the international break, a crushing 2-1 home defeat to S.D. Eibar consigned them to dead last in the league table. Having gone a goal down through a penalty, Pucela fought back and equalised with a superbly taken Toni Villa strike. However, a missed penalty from Sergi Guardiola came back to haunt them as they failed to take advantage of their opponents being reduced to ten men and conceded a hammer blow in the 90th minute to drop to another defeat.
This was a tough loss to mull over, with no matches for the next two weeks due to international games being played. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Further players have been added in the shape of veteran midfielder Roque Mesa and exciting Portuguese prospect Jota, an on-loan left-midfielder from Benfica. The first match after the fortnight layoff is against S.D. Huesca, last season’s Segunda champions who also have not registered a win since their promotion to the top division in the summer. It is arguably a very winnable match, to use a cliché, but Sergio and his new look squad must gel quickly to avoid losing any more ground on the teams above them than they already have.