2002/2003 SEASON - A YEAR TO FORGET  
 

PRESIDENT
Jaime Ortí Ruiz
THE TEAM
COACH Rafael Benítez Maudes
GOALKEEPERS Cañizares, Palop
DEFENDERS Ayala, Carboni, Curro Torres, Djukic, Fabio Aurelio, Garrido, Marchena, Pellegrino and Reveillere
MIDFIELDERS Aimar, Albelda, Angulo, Baraja, De los Santos, Kily González, Rufete, Vicente, Enguix and Albiol
FORWARDS Carew, Juan Sánchez, Mista and Salva
The team of Valencia CF in the 2002/2003 season presentation Benítez's Valencia started a very hopeful season offering the league champions cup to the supporters Anthony Reveillere, who arrived lended from the french team Rennes, was the only incorporation to Valencia CF Despite the romours during the summer, Kily González remained in Valencia this season

SUMMARY OF THE SEASON

The orange trophy won versus Nacional Montevideo, one of the feww good news of the seasonFailure and deception. Valencia CF closed the 2002-03 season with these two words in the mind of all the valencians. The first year after the success was not a good one for the club, for all, from the firt supporter until the last player. Beaten in the King's Cup in a humiliating way de by a Second Division B team, fifth in the league and, because of that, out of the Champions League and beaten in Europa for the second consecutive year by Inter Milan, managed by the Valencia CF ex-coach Héctor Cúper.
With the only good new of the victory in a every year more devalued Orange Trophy versus Nacional Montevideo, the final balance of the season is poor. This fact, together with the worrying economical situation, an electoral process in which the club is turned into a market in which shares are bought and sold like candies, and the lack of capacity of the executive committe to generate illusion, gives a clear result: This one's a year to forget.
If Valencia CF finished ill in June 2003, the truth is that the symptom of this desease could be noticed twelve months before that. The president, Jaime Ortí, was whistled by the supporters in the presentation, the defeat versus Deportivo in the Supercup giving a poor image and the suspension of the last training befor the beginning of the league show that the team didn't start the season the best way. The worst of it, the absence of hirings. A problem that the team would have to pay along the season that the committee tries to hide with grandiloquent declarations. Even though, the results at the beginning of the league are not too bad.
The year 2002 finished for Valencia CF with the sensation that this season the team would have to work harder to win a championship. The team, solid and compact, sends the same good vibrations than in the previous season, but this is something that the rivals already know, and they would complicate really much the targets. Besides, the injuries, which are not really noticed in the team's performance, leave a mood of fatality in the ambient that the good results avoided to come true. But even that, the hesitation of the coach was to see how the team was playing well but was not able to win, and see how the doctors had as much work as the trainers. Cañizares, Kily González, Rufete, Aimar, Albelda, De los Santos, Mista, Angulo, Marchena, Carboni and Vicente are injured during the first third of the league. Some of them with more severity and others with less, but all of them out of the team, and Valencia had to count on younger players like Enguix and Albiol in more than ome math. Added to this, there's a strange relationship between the coach and the striker Salva.
The forward, after playing four matches at the beginning of the season, falls out of the team. According to Benítez, for technical reasons, but everything seems to indicate that the club wants to sell him in December. Salva, was finally lended to Bolton Wanderers, from England. Despite the insistence of the trainer to reinforce the team for the second league round, the club only counted on Reveillere, french defender who arrived lended form Rennes. It was the beginning of the nightmare of a team that wasn't able to overcome the pressure of the rivals.
The european elimination becomes a ballast that the team is not able to drop. The team is out of the Champions League and after two months of hell they also fall out of the next season's edition, because the team finished fifth in the league. Benítez's words with clear acusations, the physical level of the team and the lack of faith of the players turn the league final section in a pitiful procession in which Valencia CF loses more and more gas and positions in the classification, and Celta, its rival in the fight for the fourth position reduces the advantage week after week.
First, the team surrenders to the fight for the league leaving Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Deportivo fighting for the championship. And in this no man's land the team falls out of the Champions positions in a final stage to forget. Not even the last match at Seville had importance, the team had already failed a week before, at Mestalla and versus Barcelona, Valencia lost and gave the fourth position to Celta, that showed more strength and compromise. A season that had started with all the hopes in achieving a new championship finished as a complete failure.


NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP

Valencia finished a poor season at Sevilla, a match in which nothing was in playThe 2002-2003 National League Championship was a complete deception for the players and the supporters of Valencia CF. The che team, which started as title holders and one of the favorites to conquer the final trophy, finished the season in the fifth position, out of the places that gave the right to play the following edition of the Champions League. The team managed to qualify for the UEFA Cup, a low prize for a team that faced the season looking at the highest targets.
In spite of that, the sason couldn't start better. Three victories and a tie at Malaga in the first four matches left the team of Rafa Benítez in a very good situation, until Celta visited Mestalla and won in a very strange match. Valencia played better and deserved the victory, but Baraja missed two penalties and Celta didn't miss its opportunity. The gallician team won 0-1, and this result would be, at the end of the season, essential for the final classification.
The team from Mestalla kept on achieving good results, even though the style of the team didn't convince. Victories and ties allowed the team to remain in the high positions with all the hopes. But in spite of that, the coach was not happy. The polemics around the absence of new hirings and the lack of interest of the committee in reinforcing the team in December was not a good new for Rafa Benítez, who had to make up all kind of combinations to count on a competitive starting line-up due to the big amount of injuries in the team. With all this tension, the first big fiasco arrived. Valencia was seriously punished at Santiago Bernabéu by Real Madrid after having been beaten home by Deportivo. The tie achieved at Anoeta versus Real Sociedad didn't seem to be enough and the first crisis arrived. Fortunately, the team showed its courage and defeated Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium, with a spectacular Fabio Aurelio, and finished the league's first round with a hard victory home versus Seville.
The second round started and, like at the start of the season, the results were excellent. Again, three victories and a tie in four matches made the team scale positions after an excellent match at Madrid versus Rayo Vallecano. But all this was an illusion, the team's strength was low, the injuries and the pressure of keeping the rhythm in the domestic league and the champions league was too high. Valencia counted on a big points difference with the fifth, Celta, but Mestalla's team started its free falling. The gallician team had reinforced in December, and had to concentrate only in the league. Despite the important tie achieved at Balaídos versus Celta, Valencia couldn't raise its head, and in the followind nine matches was only able to beat Osasuna and Alavés home, and was beaten by Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Betis, Valladolid, Racing Santander and Villarreal, leaving Valencia in a serious crisis.
Celta kept on reducing the distance, and the great victory at Riazor versus Deportivo was useless. Valencia was not able to score, and Fabio Aurelio, a defender, was the top scorer of the team. And then arrived the match versus Real Madrid in Mestalla. The whites had no marcy and defeated Valencia CF, that faced the following match at Anoeta versus Real Sociedad in a terminal situation. Despite the draw, the fear started to threaten the che team, that was beaten home by Mendieta's Barcelona and lost the fourth position in the league.
The last league match at Seville was useless. The season finished in a sad way and beneath the expectations. The che team didn't achieve its target, qualify for the Champions League and, once again, was relegated to play the UEFA Cup next year.
The scorers of the team during the season were the following: Carew, Aimar and Fabio Aurelio (8 goals), Mista (7 goals), Baraja and Sánchez (5 goals), Angulo (4 goals), Rufete (3 goals), Reveillere (2 goals) and De Los Santos, Vicente, Ayala and Pelegrino (1 goal). These were the results and the final classification of the 2002/2003 season.

DAYRESULT
1Mallorca 0 - Valencia 2
2Valencia 3 - Recreativo 1
3Málaga 2 - Valencia 2
4Valencia 3 - Rayo 0
5Valencia 0 - Celta 1
6At. Madrid 1 - Valencia 1
7Valencia 5 - Ath. Bilbao 1
8Espanyol 0 - Valencia 1
9Valencia 1 - Betis 1
10Osasuna 1 - Valencia 0
11Valencia 2 - Valladolid 0
12Alavés 0 - Valencia 0
13Valencia 2 - Racing 0
14Villarreal 0 - Valencia 2
15Valencia 0 - Deportivo 1
16Real Madrid 4 - Valencia 1
17Valencia 2 - R. Sociedad 2
18Barcelona 2 - Valencia 4
19Valencia 1 - Sevilla 0
DAYRESULT
20Valencia 1 - Mallorca 0
21Recreativo 1 - Valencia 1
22Valencia 2 - Málaga 0
23Rayo 0 - Valencia 4
24Celta 1 - Valencia 1
25Valencia 0 - At. Madrid 1
26Ath. Bilbao 1 - Valencia 0
27Valencia 1 - Espanyol 1
28Betis 2 - Valencia 0
29Valencia 1 - Osasuna 0
30Valladolid 1 - Valencia 0
31Valencia 3 - Alavés 0
32Racing 2 - Valencia 1
33Valencia 1 - Villarreal 2
34Deportivo 1 - Valencia 2
35Valencia 1 - Real Madrid 2
36R. Sociedad 1 - Valencia 1
37Valencia 1 - Barcelona 3
38Sevilla 0 - Valencia 3
POSTEAMMPWTLGFGAPTS
1Real Madrid3822124864278
2Real Sociedad3822106714576
3Deportivo3822610664772
4Celta38171011453661
5Valencia CF3817912563560
6FC Barcelona38151112634756
7Ath. Bilbao37151012625855
8Betis38141212565254
9Mallorca38141014495652
10Sevilla38133214393850
11At. Madrid38121115525547
12Osasuna38121115404847
13Valladolid38121016373846
14Málaga38111314444946
15Villarreal38111215445345
16Racing3813520546444
17Espanyol38101315515343
18Recreativo3881218356136
19Alavés3881119386835
20Rayo Vallecano3871120316232


KING'S CUP

Alicante CF, team of Second Division B, defeated Valencia CF in the second round"I don't even know what to think about this". That's what Jaime Ortí, president of Valencia CF, said after being beaten, once again, in the King's Cup by a Second B team. This time it's Alicante the team which increases the cup fiasco in which the team seems to fall once and again since they had won the championship in Sevilla.
Rafa Benítez saved the first match point in the first round of the Cup miraculously. The enemy was Nàstic Tarragona and applying rotations and rests in the team, they defeat the catalonian team after a bad match, that finished without goals, in the penalty shoot-out. The match was played at Nou Estadi stadium in Tarragona, on September 11th, 2002. The che team suffered more than expected, but qualifies for the following round.
The valencian coach had taken this competition as an important target for this season, and suddenly arrived Alicante CF in the second round. A team coached by a friend of Benítez ready to make history. And they did. Both teams knew the importance of an eliminatory that had to be decided in a single match at José Rico Pérez Stadium in Alicante, on Novembre 6th 2002. Valencia started the match with not habitual players and has many dificulties to face the match. At the end of the match the result is 1-1, but in the extra time, two goals by Mista and Sánchez seem to sentence the game. With the spectators leaving the stadium, the players of Alicante give their all and manage to tie the match in just two minutes. The penalty shoot-out left the sensation that Valencia had lost a great oportunity to qualify. España, goalkeeper of Alicante becomes the heroe of the night as he stops two penalties and Fabio Aurelio misses his kick. Valencia lived another black night in the Cup, three consecutives with this one, while Alicante had its moment of glory.


SPANISH SUPERCUP

Valencia CF lost the Supercup versus Deportivo in two high voltage matchesValencia CF played its second Spanish Supercup final, as the current league championship title holder, versus Deportivo La Coruña, current King's Cup champion. This final was played during the month of August and, even though the supporters hopefully expected the team to win the first title of the new season, the che team was a complete disaster in both legs.
In the first leg match, played on August 18th at Riazor Stadium, Valencia CF threw half of the cup away in a terrible match in which was defeatd 0-3. The image offered by Rafa Benítez's team was really disappointing and was not the one expected from a team that had been proclaimed champions two months before. Despite a sensation of high motivation in the beginning, the team lost soon the concentration and Deportivo completed a spectacular game, punishing the rival with no mercy. In just 45 minutes, Valencia received three goals and offered a very poor image, while the players spent most of the time complaining instead of facing the match with the required concentration.
One week later, on August 25th, 2002, Valencia was defeated again 0-1 by Deportivo, who was proclaimed champion of the Supercopa at Mestalla. In a very rough match, Ayala saw the red card in the 2nd minute, and the che team had to try a miracle. Benítez kept Pellegrino as the only central defender, helped by the wings, but it didn't really work. The match was starred by a lot of fights between the players, and Valencia was not able to find the rhythm, missing all the chances they had. Deportivo finally took advantage and won the title. First deception of the season.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Valencia CF completed one of the best matches of the season versus Liverpool at MestallaAfter the national league championship conquered last season the Champions League and the great european nights return to Mestalla. Valencia CF qualified directly for the competition for the first time, without the need of playing a previous round. The first match-group stage didn't seem to be difficult because the team made it easy. The rivals, Liverpool, FC Basel and Spartak Moscow, couldn't stand the valencian might that starts the competition showing the english team at Mestalla that they want to be starrings in Europe again. Valencia, leaded by a spectacular Pablo Aimar, defeated Liverpool 2-0 on September 17th, in one of the best matches of the season. After that, Valencia wins all the matches except a tie 2-2 at Basel, on October 22nd, in the last minute. Valencia offers spectacle and is able to win even at the reds' stadium on October 30th, with a goal by Rufete. The rest of the matches finish with excellent results, 0-3 versus Spartak at Moscow on September 25th, 6-2 versus Basilea at Mestalla on October 2nd and again 3-0 versus the russian champion on November 12th.
But the second stage arrvies and the draw is not as fortunate as expected. Valencia's group is formed by Koeman's Ajax Arsenal and Roma. An impressive challenge for a team ready to make history. But the stage is full of uncertainty. After the tie 1-1 of the duth team at Mestalla on November 27th, in a match in which Valencia deserved to win and almost lost, another tie without goals, this time in London, on December 10th. Two points in two matches leave the team third, with Ajax and Arsenal having four points, after their victories versus Capello's Roma, and with three months of dalay in the competition. But then, the moment of truth arrived, and Valencia succeeded. The team achieves a very important victory at Roma, on February 18th, with a lonely goal by Carew, but then is defeated 0-3 home by the italians. Things were becoming harder. On March 11th, Valencia achieves a tie 1-1 in Holland, despite playing an excellent match in which the team deserved something more. Rafa Benítez's team needed a victory versus Arsenal at Mestalla. It's Saint Joseph's night, March 19th, and Carew becomes the executor of the english team. His two goals turn Mestalla into an orgy of passion. This Victory puts Valencia between the best eight teams of the continent.
One again, Cuper's Inter knocks Valencia out of Europa in the quarter finalsBut in this road towards glory fate had reserved a curiour paradox. The rival in the quarter finals was no other than Cuper's Inter Milan. Once again the argentinian ex-coach, this time in the champions league, and once again playing the second leg home. In Italy, on April 9th, Inter defeated the che team 1-0, not a bad result. In Valencia, two weeks later, a very hot match. The mood in the valencian team is not good, and Benítez decided to give a polemic press conference. One day before the trascendental match he criticized his players, telling who are, in his opininion, guilty of the situation. The consequence is a very hot match, in which Valencia deserved the victory, and wins 2-1, with goals by Aimar and Baraja. Toldo, the italian goalkeeper, with an impressive performance, and the referee of the match, who didn't whistle a clear penalty, became the starrings of the match. Despite the victory, the result is not enough. Out of the champions league, the rough words of Rafa Benítez, with or without reason, would be a stone in the final section of the season.

2001-2002 INDEX 2003-2004

Compiled and written by Manuel Lazcano - Design by Luis Martinez - Based on an original idea by Chema Santiago
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