Real Valladolid CF are currently the most in-form team in LaLiga Santander after picking up 13 points from the last possible 15, which has turned them into a force to be reckoned with under the guidance of Sergio González.
Pucela have fulfilled their ambition of once again going toe-to-toe with the best teams in the world in LaLiga Santander. Sergio González took charge of Valladolid in April when the team were languishing in eleventh position in LaLiga 1l2l3 and in the space of six months, after leading the club to promotion, his side now sit sixth in Spain’s top flight after nine matches.
Despite a stuttering start to the season, in which Los Pulcelanos only notched up two points from a possible 12, they have turned things round and are currently the most in-form side in LaLiga Santander over the last five games after taking 13 points from a possible 15, including four consecutive victories. Valladolid have also not conceded a goal since 27 September, making it three clean-sheets in the last three games – two of which were away from home.
Sergio González with R. Valladolid: 12W – 5D – 4L; 33 GF and 18 GA
Seven players have started in all four of the side’s back-to-back wins: goalkeeper Masip; the defensive back-four of Nacho, Calero, Olivas and Moyano; the two central midfielders, Alcaraz and Míchel; and left-midfielder Toni Villa.
Leo Suárez, Óscar Plano – currently out injured-, Antoñito and Borja have also been used by González in the midfield positions, with Duje Cop or Enes Ünal leading the line in attack.
González has used the seven regular starters as the spine of his team, whilst selecting the appropriate players to fill the remaining positions in relation to the ground or opposition. When the time has come to be more ambitious, as was the case in Valladolid’s games at the José Zorrilla stadium against Levante and Huesca, the coach has opted to play a 4-4-2 formation, with Cop and Ünal playing together up front.
However, on other occasions - at the Estadio de la Cerámica and the Benito Villamarín - the Catalonian manager has deployed a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation in order to bolster the midfield and take control of the game, by introducing a player who is composed on the ball, has a physical presence and reads the game well. This strategy materialised on the team’s visits to Villarreal and Real Betis, as the visitors kept clean-sheets and claimed victories thanks to goals from midfield players.
Valladolid’s defensive resilience means only Atletico Madrid have kept as many clean-sheets - on five occasions – in the first nine matches and only Los Rojiblancos (5) have conceded fewer goals than Pucela (6) in LaLiga Santander. In attack, despite not managing to find the back of the net in the first four games, the team has turned the corner and scored in the following five encounters.
In terms of individual contribution, former youth-team players Calero – centre-back – and Toni – left-midfield –, who were both born in 1995, have proved they have what it takes to play at the top level in their first season in LaLiga Santander. Rubén Alcaraz – a centre-midfielder with the ability to orchestrate play and the desire to put his body on the line for the team – has settled in nicely into the top flight of Spanish football at the age of 27. Alcaraz is the side’s top passer (324), the player who has shot the most (18), the most fouled player (25) and the player to foul most (15). The midfielder is also the second player in LaLiga Santander in terms of ball recoveries made (79), only behind Éver Banega (80).