Previous
Getafe
Valencia
0
3
FT
Game Details
Wigan Athletic
Ipswich Town
1
2
FT
Game Details
Academica de Coimbra
Estoril
2
2
FT
Game Details
Real Madrid
Elche
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Celta Vigo
Deportivo La Coruña
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Bayern Munich
SC Paderborn 07
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Eintracht Frankfurt
Mainz
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
TSG Hoffenheim
SC Freiburg
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Werder Bremen
Schalke 04
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Empoli
AC Milan
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Stade de Reims
Marseille
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stade Rennes
Toulouse
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Southampton
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Cardiff City
AFC Bournemouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derby County
Reading
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Leyton Orient
Sheffield United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Liverpool
Middlesbrough
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Milton Keynes Dons
Bradford City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shrewsbury Town
Norwich City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sunderland
Stoke City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Swansea City
Everton
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Fulham
Doncaster Rovers
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Newport County
Swindon Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Aberdeen
Livingston
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Falkirk
Rangers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Kilmarnock
St Johnstone
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Partick Thistle
St Mirren
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Ross County
Hibernian
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Clyde
Montrose
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Brescia
Lanciano
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Cittadella
Pro Vercelli
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Crotone
Catania
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Frosinone
US Avellino
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Livorno
Varese
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Modena
Perugia
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Ternana
Bologna
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Trapani
Virtus Entella
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
US Pescara
Latina
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Vicenza
Bari
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Ingolstadt 04
FC Erzgebirge Aue
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
SpVgg Greuther Furth
VfR Aalen
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
St Pauli
TSV Eintracht Braunschweig
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
SV Sandhausen
TSV 1860 Munich
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Ajaccio
Le Havre AC
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Angers
AJ Auxerre
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Arles
Stade Laval
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
AS Nancy Lorraine
Tours
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Dijon FCO
Créteil
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Nimes
Chateauroux
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Orléans
Ajaccio GFCO
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Sochaux
Brest
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Troyes
Niort
6:55 PM GMT
Game Details
Capelle
FC Volendam
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rijnsburgse Boys
Sparta Rotterdam
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Scheveningen
Lisse
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
VVSB
Vitesse Arnhem
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Spakenburg
NAC Breda
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Achilles '29
Twente Enschede
Postp
Game Details
Ajax Amateurs
NEC Nijmegen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Almere City
ADO Den Haag
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Deltasport
Willem II Tilburg
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Exelsior Maassluis
FC Emmen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Flevo Boys
DOS '37
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
HHC Hardenberg
RKC Waalwijk
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Kozakken Boys
Sportlust '46
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
ONS Sneek
Dordrecht '90
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
PSV Eindhoven
FC Utrecht
Postp
Game Details
VVV Venlo
FC Eindhoven
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
Heerenveen
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Kansas City
Real Estelí
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Portland Timbers
Alpha United
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
César Vallejo
Universitario de Sucre
10:00 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Cerro Porteño
Independiente del Valle
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
San Martín de San Juan
Argentinos Juniors
11:10 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlante
Mérida
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Correcaminos
At. San Luis
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Lobos BUAP
Oaxaca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mineros de Zacatecas
Dorados de Sinaloa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Santos
Monterrey
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
U.A.N.L
Queretaro
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Toluca
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Veracruz
Chiapas
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
ABC
Goianiense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Boa MG
Luverdense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Bragantino
Icasa
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Joinville
América Mineiro
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Paraná Clube
Avaí
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Vila Nova-GO
AA Ponte Preta
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Ceará
América RN
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Portuguesa de Desportos
Náutico
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
CR Vasco da Gama
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Santa Cruz FC
Oeste
12:50 AM GMT
Game Details
Vantforet Kofu
Vissel Kobe
9:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cerezo Osaka
Nagoya Grampus Eight
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Kashiwa Reysol
Sagan Tosu
10:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Rangers de Talca
Palestino
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad de Concepción
Colo Colo
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next

Canales: Liga MX Best XI

Liga MX 10 hours ago
Read

Roma spoil Zdenek Zeman's homecoming

Roma 9 hours ago
Read
Apr 6, 2009

Valencia recovers its pulse

"Valencia is the land of the flowers, land of light, land of love" (lyrics from the song "Valencia", by De la Prada and Padilla).

The city of Valencia and its most popular football club, Valencia CF, can probably tell the story of Spain's recent monetary rise and subsequent financial collapse better than any other Spanish region or team.

Once a provincial capital with very few tourist attractions (the authentic paella, no less, and the San Juan feast with plenty of firecrackers and noise), Valencia made the most of the economic bonanza Spain went through between the late nineties and 2008. Its infrastructure was vastly improved (roads, trains, airport), and the city changed its face with the addition of several marquee locations (the amazing Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or the L'assut de l'or Bridge are must-sees), most of them designed by local architecture genius Santiago Calatrava.

Valencia CF was already a team of large tradition in Spain, but their titles were precious few, most of them won back in the forties and fifties, with President Luis Casanova at the helm. With both the country and the city blooming, the football team refused to be left behind. In 1999, Claudio Ranieri led the club to win the Copa del Rey, their first silverware in twenty years, which started an amazing spell in which Valencia also won two Ligas (2002 and 2004), one UEFA Cup (2004), and got to the Champions League final in 2000 and 2001.

If you are not familiar with the demanding Valencia fans, you would think no supporter would ever complain during such a successful phase. You'd be wrong, as things were never easy for the gaffers in Valencia, even when the victories were piling up. Their supporters always want to win in style.

When you take into consideration that Claudio Ranieri, Hector Cúper and Rafael Benítez were prominently involved with the club in that spell, you can imagine that the fans' thirst for top class entertainment wasn't really satiated. Valencia became a top tier club through a very physical approach, based on an inexpugnable defence and a tireless midfield that scored more often than the strikers, with the exception of Claudio López.

Like their approach or not, the fact is that, by 2004, Valencia CF were serious contenders in every competition, and appeared to have conquered the unofficial title of "Third Spanish Club" in its own right. And then a certain Juan Bautista Soler became President.

Mr. Soler's negative impact on the club is beyond belief. He broke each and every sensible rule to running a club, starting with the lack of stability for the executives (an endless parade of sporting and medical directors, director generals, and coaches have worked for the club in the last five years), followed by amounting a huge level of debt (over €400m, not surprising when you continuously hire and fire all those executives and players) and obviously finishing with the chaotic management of the footballing aspects, the Ronald Koeman fiasco being the cherry on the cake.

In pure Spanish fashion, the solution for all these troubles was real estate. Inspired by other clubs (Florentino Pérez had pulled a similar stunt for Real Madrid a few years back), Soler designed an operation to sell the current Mestalla stadium for a stunning profit, and then move the team to a new, more modern, cheaper home already under construction.

Soler, just like many others in Valencia and the rest of the country, did not see the real estate crisis coming. And once it came, he did not think it would last long.

Finally, he understood he had no way of selling the current stadium nor finishing the new one, and decided to quit. The following three presidents (Morera, Villalonga and Soriano) promised several measures but delivered none, and eventually the club stopped paying the players and most of its creditors.

At that point, during the last week of March, it seemed impossible for Valencia to get out of the hole without selling their best players, David Villa (with several proposals in England and Spain) and David Silva (linked to Italy's Juventus and also Liverpool). The team had gone six matches without a win, and the near future looked bleak, especially if they had to sell their best two players.

Then Bancaja, the regional savings bank and Valencia's largest creditor, decided to take over and appointed a new CEO, Javier Gómez, who gained management responsibilities over those of the current President, Soriano. Fortunately for Valencia, Gómez has done more in two weeks than the combined last four presidents have in two years. Last week the club obtained a €50m loan from a local company that will cover the players' salaries and the debt with the construction company that's building the new stadium. The club also announced a €92m capital increase to be done in June.

Their money issues are still far from being solved, but the impact of the good news is already apparent. "We feel relieved", said Villa before Sunday's match. They finally looked like their old selves on the pitch, in a 4-1 win over a relegation-threatened Getafe. Raul Albiol's final goal, an unprecedented strike from over 20 yards, appears like a good omen for the "Ches" and the team are now just two points behind Villarreal and should fight for a Champions League spot.

Both sides will thank rivals Atlético for yet another surreal defensive display in their 2-4 home defeat to Osasuna. José Antonio Camacho's team have grown remarkably during the second half of the season, and their Iranian duo (Nekounam and ball magician Masoud) are hugely entertaining to watch. Unluckily for them, their calendar is the most difficult together with Mallorca's, as both clubs will have to play all of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla before the end of the season.

In other matches, all the top three teams won 0-1 away from home, which maintains the status quo with one match less to go. Barcelona and Villarreal (missing injured Santiago Cazorla) will play Bayern Munich and Arsenal respectively in the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek.

But the real fun is at the bottom. Last-place Espanyol managed to win on Sunday, so literally any team between the 11th and the 20th can go down. The stereotypical "every match is a final" has actually become true, and there's nine weeks full of finals before us. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.