Goalkeeper Diego Alves arrived from Almeria, centre-back Adil Rami, signed in January for a summer move from Lille, and winger Pablo Piatti, also joining from Almeria, are all set to be involved in Unai Emery’s selection plans for today’s game. Only Dani Perejo who joined from Getafe, will not feature until at least Saturday’s game with Leicester City.
This is the first opportunity for fans to see the other three new faces though, and in Emery’s 4-3-3 system that he has spoken about through the summer and looks committed towards. Last season’s otherwise successful campaign was hit by Emery’s insistence on squad rotation, that although with reason behind it, unsettled the team, and saw formation changes distract debate in the Press.
However, it is Parejo and Piatti’s arrivals that see the team boosted in the midfield positions, and offer the potential for the Coach’s preferred tactic to once again take precedence. Both played in this set-up at their respective former clubs – Parejo in the middle, Piatti on the wing – whilst defender Rami’s previous club also used the system.
Emery’s preferred starting line-up going into 2011/12 is likely to deploy Parejo in midfield with Tino Costa to provide possession-based play, and one of Mehmet Topal and David Albelda to take the third centre-midfield spot to shield the back-line. Rami is a note-worthy addition in defence as the club’s only left-footed centre-back, bringing a hope of balance to a defence that on occasion struggled for consistency last term.
In attack, Piatti would join Juan Mata in providing versatile, creative play from out wide, with Pablo Hernandez and Brazilian Jonas initially cited as alternatives for this role. Soldado and Aritz Aduriz will compete for the single striker’s position.
Whilst today is just a friendly, it is worth noting that last summer’s pre-season games had Emery again preparing for the season with a 4-3-3 in mind, until one of the last friendlies – a 2-0 win over Fiorentina – convinced the 39-year-old to instead begin with a 4-4-2 in light of Aduriz and Soldado’s promise in a strike-partnership.
PSV player Ronald Koeman unsuccessfully tried in 2007/08 to implement a 4-3-3 system to a team that under Hector Cuper and Rafael Benitez worked in rigid 4-2-3-1 shapes, and under Quique Sanchez Flores, preferred a 4-4-2 variant. Not the first time Emery or indeed a Valencia Coach has tried to implement a 4-3-3, but in light of the new arrivals, those attempts to again change at the club look more significant. If there is one team worth following through pre-season 2011, it is Los Che.