Els Taronges’ Geoffrey Kondogbia
Valencia’s all-action midfielder, Geoffrey Kondogbia, followed on brilliantly from his quality laden midweek Champions League effort vs. Manchester United by putting in a similarly excellent shift against Barcelona.
Authoritative, tough and assertive, he was right up to the challenge of stopping one of the most formidable offensive units in Europe.
In a performance that was full of discipline, the Frenchman’s concentration and awareness saw him positioned flawlessly within Marcelino’s organised 4-4-2 defensive shape. By remaining so horizontally and vertically compact Valencia’s half space to half space coverage allowed Barcelona’s stars, especially Lionel Messi, minimal space to weave their magic in central areas. And Kondogbia unquestionably played a key part in this.
Choosing perfectly when to stay in shape to occupy space, take on a marking assignment in his zone, spring forward to press or support a teammate, the former AS Monaco, Sevilla, and Inter Milan man exhibited conviction in his actions.
Using frequent head checks, he always observed his nearby areas so he could closely monitor his adversaries’ movements and how to react best to limit their impact. Particularly impressive was the way he used pressing triggers to make life as difficult as possible for Messi to turn and wriggle free from his clutches. Using his rapid acceleration, reaction times and hulking frame, he swiftly harried his targets to ensure they had to settle for a pass away from goal or be dispossessed/forced into an unclean action.
Boasting a muscular 188 cm frame, Kondogbia proved a stern foe to overcome in 1v1 duels, for his strength, speed, agility, and telescopic legs ensured he intervened frequently, something his nine interceptions, two tackles, and seven ball recoveries aptly evidenced. Brimming with intensity and ferocity when executing his interventions, this complemented his tireless work rate and tenacity wonderfully.
Although his stopping stats were striking, they didn’t fully do his efforts justice, as his astute positional alterations to shift to the ball near side and to block potential passing routes were pivotal in preventing Barca from probing into key central areas.
Offensively, his contribution was obviously tempered by the fact Ernesto Valverde’s team had over 75% of possession, but Kondogbia still displayed his prowess in this phase. Technically accomplished, he kickstarted many a promising counter-attack courtesy of his smooth passing under pressure. Through flicks, intricate one-touch balls or laser-like ground passes into his attackers, his wand of a left foot impressed. Add in some quality driving forward runs, where his skills and close control shone, and it was notable how he impacted despite having minimal opportunities to do so.
Having missed the best part of a month with a frustrating ankle injury, it’s been great to see the powerful midfielder back doing what he does best against some of the elite teams Europe has to offer. Los Che will just be hoping he doesn’t suffer an injury on international duty with the Central African Republic, who he just debuted for after switching allegiances from France after missing the cut for the 2018 World Cup.
With many comparing him to Manchester United star, Paul Pogba, it was interesting to hear his tactically sophisticated manager’s opinion a few months ago on who’s the superior player. “He (Kondogbia) is a key player for us, he is important for how we play and although I don’t follow how the other French midfielders are getting on, recently I don’t think that some of them would be close to how Kondogbia is playing,” he insisted.
“We saw Pogba play against Sevilla and Kondogbia against the same opponent and there isn’t any kind of comparison to be made. As always, however, I have total respect for the national team managers and as Valencia boss, I am happy that he is here with us.”
As one of the most dominant midfielders in La Liga last season while on loan from Inter Milan, Valencia were delighted to acquire his services permanently in the summer. Judging by his super form of late, this trend looks set to continue this term too, as the fully fit and firing Kondogbia will be eager to propel this talented Valencia’s to even loftier heights this campaign.
Preview by: licencetoroam.
Let’s see what Geoffrey Kondogbia’s football career for Les Fauves is going to be like. Watch out more of this Central African Republic star on Els Taronges’ upcoming La Liga showdowns! Register with VOdds or contact us through Skype to place your football and other sports picks!