Tag Archives: Yonathan Del Valle

Venezuelans Abroad – 9 Aug 2014 Midweek Round-up

It has been quite an eventful and successful week for Venezuelans, particularly in European competition. With increasingly more leagues and cups being contested, this column will be compelled to become focused on competitive football and selective about which players are featured, though if there are any questions about players who have not been covered, please post a message in the Comments section below and you can be sure that you will receive a prompt response. If you follow this site’s Twitter page (Hispanospherical) or have understandably been keeping an eye out for this week’s matches, then you will be familiar with much of what is about to follow, though hopefully you find it helpful to have it all collated into an article and with a few extra details. Here goes:

Europe

The second legs of the penultimate qualifying stages of the two leading continental club competitions were played this midweek. In the Third Qualifying Round of the UEFA Champions League Salomón Rondón, building on a strong start to the Russian Premier League at the weekend, received the nod over Aleksandr Kerzhakov and scored the opening goal in Zenit St. Petersburg’s 3-0 victory over AEL Limassol of Cyprus to overturn the 1-0 reversal from last week. The Witsel-less Zenit were aided in their mission by the early bath for the Brazilian Danielzinho, who received two yellow cards in a matter of seconds after just 26 minutes, which led to an even greater attacking impetus for the home side, with Kerzhakov coming on as a half-time substitute for the defensive Igor Smolnikov. Rondón’s goal came after 55 minutes from a header from Igor Shatov’s cross from the left and he nearly became the tie-winner on more than one occasion, most notably with just two minutes to go when his header from an identical position was saved by an outstretched hand, but fell to the feet of Danny who tucked it away. Not long after, Kerzhakov converted a penalty to ensure Zenit St Petersburg’s name would be in the following day’s draw, in which they received Standard Liège of Belgium, who they will play on 20 and 26 August for a place in the group stage.

Jonathan España was an unused substitute for the opposition against Zenit and he and his compatriot Jaime Moreno may be comforted that AEL Limassol have been given a consolation prize of sorts as they were in the draw for the final Qualifying Round of the UEFA Europa League and will play Tottenham Hotspur for a place in the group stage of that tournament. Backtracking a little, the Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League was played this week, with two Venezuelans in action. Josef Martínez came off the bench after just over an hour to score a powerful header from Molinaro’s cross at the death for his first competitive goal for Torino in their 4-0 (7-0 on aggregate) home thrashing of Brommapojkarna. A great moment for Martínez, though considering the standard of the opposition was lower than much of what he faced in the Swiss Super League last season as well as the attacking options Torino have at their disposal, judgement regarding his applicability at this level will have to be withheld until Serie A gets underway. Standing in the way of a place in the group stage for Torino will be Croatia’s RNK Split. The other Venezuelan who played in the competition this week was Rio Ave’s Yonathan Del Valle, who looked threatening as he bustled his way through and had several shots in his side’s 0-0 home draw with Gothenburg, which allowed them to progress 1-0 on aggregate. Del Valle can consider this match a warm-up for this sunday’s Super Cup clash against Benfica, his team having qualified for this match due to Benfica achieving the domestic double last year and defeating Rio Ave in the  Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup). Regarding the draw, in the final Qualifying Round, Rio Ave will again face Swedish opposition in the form of Elfsborg and all of these Venezuelans will be joined at this stage by Mario Rondón of C.D. Nacional, whose side will enter the competition and have been drawn against Dinamo Minsk of Belarus. All of these ties should be played on the Thursdays over the same two weeks as the Champions League Qualifiers, 21 and 28 August.

Moving on to domestic action, while none that concerns us was played this midweek, there will certainly be some at the weekend as, joining those that are already underway will be France’s Ligue 1. Nantes will be starting their campaign at home to Lens and while Oswaldo Vizcarrondo will surely be in the squad, there are doubts over Fernando Aristeguieta as he has been missing from pre-season action over recent weeks with an injury. Juan Falcón, new to the league following two successful seasons at Zamora FC, will be hoping to line-up for promoted FC Metz as they face a stern trip to Lille, home to World Cup players such as Divock Origi, Salomon Kalou and, the man he will be hoping to put one or two past, Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama. Another league that will kick-off is England’s second-tier, The Championship, where it will be curious to see whether Fernando Amorebieta plays for Fulham away to Ipswich Town after much summer speculation over his future.

There will be other Venezuelans in competitive action in Europe this weekend and there have been several that have played in friendlies during this midweek, if you would like to hear more about these, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom.

South America

The latest round of the group stage of the Colombian Cup was contested in midweek, with Alejandro Guerra playing the full 90 minutes of Atlético Nacional’s dramatic 3-2 away win against Deportivo Rionegro. Luis Manuel Seijas was not part of Santa Fe’s squad as they lost their 100% record away to Llaneros in a 3-1 defeat, though with such a record they are still comfortably top of their group and Seijas’s exclusion should be considered a rest rather than a reflection of his performances, which have been receiving some acclaim.

Cup football was also played in Chile as San Marcos lost 4-1 away to Cobreloa but Emilio Rentería can not be held accountable for this as he was not part of the squad. San Marcos are still top of their group with 10 points but with Cobreloa on 9 points (albeit having played an extra game) and Antofagasta on 7, they will perhaps not be feeling as assured as Santa Fe.

North America

Over in Mexico, Juan Arango has been in action twice this week. Firstly in Cup action as he appeared as a substitute with just under 20 minutes left as Xolos were defeated 2-1 by Zacatepec (having beaten then 3-1 last week, aided by Arango’s assists) and also last night in the league. Indeed, Arango was clearly being rested in midweek as he played the full 90 minutes of a 0-0 draw away to Morelia, which gives César Farías’s side just two points from four games. Giancarlo Maldonado also played in two games this week and will be feeling the better of the two all-time joint top-scorers for La Vinotinto. In the cup in midweek, he started and may have been disappointed that his side, the second-tier Atlante, lost 3-2 at home to the mighty Pumas, having held them to a 1-1 away draw last week. However, he returned to scoring form in the league last night, curling in an 8th-minute free-kick as Atlante waited until a last-minute Paul Uscanga goal to defeat Irapuato 2-1. That victory leaves Atlante 3rd in the table with 7 points.

Briefly turning north to the USA, Bernardo Añor is rumoured to be suffering from a hamstring injury and is a doubt for Columbus Crew’s weekend MLS game against Toronto FC.

Asia

Finally, having been featured prominently in the previous column of Venezuelans Abroad, Andrés Túñez, the masked Gladiador, though no doubt stopped in the street repeatedly by his growing band of fans, has otherwise had a quiet week. However, his team, the Thai Premier League leaders Buriram United, will return to competitive action on Sunday and will be expecting a relatively comfortable victory as they host 9th-placed Singhtaura. Regarding the other player making a living within this continent, Miku, rest assured that this column has not forgotten about him, but there has not even been dribs or drabs of news regarding the Al-Gharafa striker, though this state of affairs will thankfully change when the Qatar Stars League kicks off in just under two weeks from now.

That concludes the round-up of the last few days of action but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

Venezuelans Abroad – 2/8/14 Midweek Round-up 2

Yes, another round-up. How about that, eh? From now on, there should be two each week for the Venezuelans Abroad category – one on Monday/Tuesday, the other on Friday/Saturday morning. Consider the first post an update on the past few weeks as well as an introduction to all the major players that will be featured. Future posts should be more selective, but if you are interested in any particular player who has not been mentioned, feel free to leave a comment and you should receive a quick response soon after!

So without further ado, these are the notable highlights involving Venezuelans playing outside of their homeland over the past few days:

Europe

While the likes of Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao may still be waiting another three weeks to begin their involvement in the Champions League, some of their back-room personnel may well have had an eye on the first legs of the Third Round Qualifying games that were played this week. Most significantly to us was the surprise 1-0 home victory for AEL Limassol of Cyprus over André Villas-Boas’s Zenit St. Petersburg. While the falsely billed Venezuelan Civil War never materialised (a scandal already for this site?) as neither Venezuelan played for the home side (Jonathan España was an unused substitute and Jaime Moreno was not registered to play), Salomón Rondón did get on the field for the visitors to play the final 30 minutes. Limassol’s winner came from a free-header not long after Rondón’s arrival, with what was the Cypriots’ first – and only – effort on target from a total of 3 chances (in comparison to Zenit’s 5 from 22). Shortly after, what was a manageable set-back was made somewhat more arduous as the Belgian international Axel Witsel lashed out in the 30-plus degree heat at an opponent and earned himself a red card and a suspension. Nevertheless, even without Witsel, Zenit will be the favourites going into the home leg next week, though first they must begin their league campaign

Thursday witnessed the Europa League’s Third (yes, third – keep up) Qualifying Round. Two Venezuelans were in action away to Swedish opposition, with firstly Yonathan Del Valle starting for Rio Ave and playing just over an hour in their 1-0 victory against IFK Göteborg. Fellow striker Josef Martínez also made an appearance, albeit for the last 20 minutes in Torino’s 3-0 victory against Brommapojkarna. .

Moving on to domestic league action, France’s Ligue 2 kicked off on Friday, with the Ochoa-less Ajaccio drawing 0-0 away to Arles-Avignon. Grenddy Perozo, who claims to have had offers from elsewhere but says it would take something special to tempt him away from Corsica, was an unused substitute.

Europe is still up to its eyeballs in friendlies, with teams at varying stages of their pre-season. Several of our men have been in action, starting with the French-based pair of Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (for Nantes vs. Vendée Luçon) and Juan Falcón (for FC Metz vs. Reims), who both received run-outs. Mario Rondón (CD Nacional) and, taking a break from the Swiss season, Pedro Ramírez (FC Sion) featured in higher-profile friendlies against Sunderland and Benfica, respectively. Darwin Machís gained more match-time with Granada as they drew 2-2 away to Albacete – he’s really pushing to be part of the first team set-up this year and his agent Sebastian Cano (who also represents Josef Martínez and Alexander González) believes the next fortnight will be crucial as to whether he remains in the manager’s plans. Perhaps the most significant European friendly news also came in Spain, more specifically the Madrid conurbation of Leganés where the local side have been recently promoted to the Liga Adelante. This is where Udinese’s surplus goalkeeper Rafael Romo surprisingly turned up in the past couple of days, having been the subject of speculation that he would be reunited with former national team boss Richard Páez back home. He appears to be on trial and got to work quickly, playing in a 2-0 away victory against CF Talavera. The number of Venezuelans in Spain appears to be growing at a steady rate.

Asia

The achievements of Andres Túñez need to be given more prominence this weekend. Not only has the colossus helped Buriram United go undefeated and rise to the top of the Thai Premier League but this week he also scored in the second leg of the semi-final of Thailand’s League Cup away to Ratchaburi – having already scored in the first leg. Given his achievements and the fact that in just over a month he already has three goals (with this latest one, a towering header past a hapless goalkeeper from an inswinging free-kick from the right, being nearly identical to the one in the first leg), one can not help feel that this league may be too easy for him.

North America

Copa Mexico action this week and while Giancarlo Maldonado did not feature for Atlante, Juan Arango most certainly did for Xolos de Tijuana and assisted the last two goals in a 3-1 victory against Zacatepec from the league below. The following day, Arango reportedly said that he would not be coming on the national team’s tour of Asia in September, instead wishing to settle down in Mexico for the time being. This did not sound like an official retirement from what must be Venezuela’s finest ever player but nevertheless it is clear that Sanvicente has plenty of big decisions to make in the upcoming month and these and much more will be discussed elsewhere on this site in the future. Returning to Arango’s club form, he also featured in league action, playing 78 minutes and coming close from a free-kick in last night’s 1-1 home draw against Tigres. Xolos are yet to win in the league, though whether César Farías is panicking as much as some of the fans is unclear.

South America

None of the four main players that will be tracked from this region (excluding Venezuela which will soon have its own column here) actually played. The two Colombia-based players, Alejandro Guerra and Luis Manuel Seijas, were left out of their sides’ cup matches though there is not much to be read into this as both Atlético Nacional and Santa Fe will both be confident of qualifying from their groups. There were no games in Chile of relevance to us, but the league resumes at the weekend.

That thus rounds up the action that occurred during the week that has not already been covered on this site and the next round-up should appear here on Monday or Tuesday morning.

If you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been missed out, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!

Venezuelans Abroad – 29/7/14 Midweek Round-up

One of many recurring features on this site will be an attempt to keep track of all the notable Venezuelan players who are either in or have a realistic chance of playing for the national squad, affectionately known as La Vinotinto. There are several handy Venezuelan websites that also attempt to cover these disparate individuals – well over 30 players, at last count. Although I will keep a personal record of the progress of each player, I won’t be overloading you all with a comprehensive barrage of tedium, detailing minutes played and all the cross-field pass statistics you could ever hope for. Instead, I shall be more selective and instead pick out some of the highlights and most notable stories, adding some opinions from time to time. I will aim to update this at least once a week, if not twice (Midweek and after the Weekend). 

To begin with and in this particular message there may be well be too information to process as I intend to give updates for players than span the last few weeks or more of action as well as introductions to certain individuals, but I hope I at least give you an idea of who to look out for and who is currently making the news around the world.

As you will see below, Venezuelans play in at least four different continents and so these continents shall provide the categories. In the absence of a universal football calendar, some leagues have already started and so below there will be an emphasis on actual competitive football, though friendlies will not be neglected altogether as plenty of Venezuelans have made big moves and are attempting to force their ways into their respective manager’s plans.

Europe

The Swiss Super League is the only European league that is currently underway and that began less than two weeks ago, with two Venezuelans having already been in action. Pedro Ramírez, a title-winner with Zamora FC back home last year and recipient of the Best Young Player of the Season, did not feature in the first game for FC Sion, but came on in the second and started the 1-0 victory over St. Gallen on Saturday. Hopefully, we’ll soon be seeing why this promising lad has been dubbed the ‘Venezuelan Messi’. Super League veteran of two years Alexander González has featured in all three games with his new club FC Thun, starting two, including the glorious 3-2 away win against Grasshoppers this past weekend. The two others affiliated with this league, the Feltscher brothers, have not yet seen action; Frank (of FC Aarau) due to injury and Rolf due to being unattached, though he did play for Grasshoppers in pre-season.

Elsewhere and in rather significant news, an all-out Venezuelan civil war may break out for the right to play in the Champions League. Indeed, AEL Limassol of Cyprus, having recruited two uncapped Venezuelans in the form of Jonathan España and Jaime Moreno have been drawn against Vinotinto colossus Salomón Rondón and his Russian side, the AVB-led Zenit St. Petersburg. The latter are undoubtedly the favourites and the first leg kicks off tomorrow, 30 July, with Limassol at home – the return leg will be on 6 August. The Russian top-flight begins this weekend, though Zenit will surely not be complacent and rest the likes of Rondón, who scored a corker against Karlsruhe in pre-season that blasted in at 123 km/h. On the other side, whether the Venezuelan pair get any match-time for the Cypriots remains to be seen, though if they were to cause an upset then defender Jonathan España will have played in the group stage of his second premier Continental club competition, having represented Zamora FC in the Copa Libertadores.

The Europa League Third Qualifying Round is also played this week and two Venezuelans may well play. Firstly, Josef Martínez, an import from the Swiss League (yes, that league knows an emerging footballing nation when it sees it) may well feature for Torino away to Brommapojkarna of Sweden. Having played regularly in pre-season, notching some goals and assists, he’s certainly one to keep an eye on and time will tell how often he features in a new-look Immobile-less Torino attack with new-boy Fabio Quagliarella. Over in Portugal, Rio Ave, home to another forward in the form of Yonathan Del Valle, will also start away to Swedish opposition, IFK Göteborg. Del Valle has featured in pre-season but whether he plays here is another matter. Regardless, both ties will be played on Thursday, with the return legs a week later. The winners will then go into the Play-off Round where they will be joined by the loser of the Zenit-Limassol tie (and all the other losers in the Champions League Third Qualifying Round) as well as the top-seeded teams which include C.D. Nacional of Portugal, where Mario Rondón plays. These ties will begin on 20 August and it will be curious to see whether Rondón is still there as, whilst representing his team in pre-season, he has also stated to the press that he thinks it is time to make the leap, claiming teams from England, Spain and France are interested.

Moving on to less competitive European news, the remaining Portugual-based player, 20-year old right-back Victor García, appears to be spending another year in the Porto B team, having trained with them and played in their pre-season 3-2 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Spain, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a fair few Venezuelans to keep an eye on and if there is one club that may get featured more than any other on this site, it will be Málaga CF, home to two players (quite possibly three, if certain rumours prove true). Firstly, the new signing Roberto Rosales, a right-back who at the tender age of 25 already has 7 years of European experience under his belt and comes from a successful spell at FC Twente in the Eredivisie. Secondly and less prominent, is the emerging prospect Juan Pablo Añor who has racked up an impressive ratio of one goal in every two games for the youth team and has been training with the first team this pre-season. Both men have featured in their Australian tour games and the club, acknowledging their Venezuelan links (it’s also the former club of Salomón Rondón), recorded a chat with the pair. There could well be another young Venezuelan forward in the Primera División as Darwin Machís appears to have been promoted to Granada’s first team squad, having played on loan in the Segunda B last year.

One league below, there’s at least four players of interest, two of whom are currently at Real Valladolid. Firstly, national team goalkeeper Dani Hernández, who has featured in a couple of pre-season games, though he has been strongly linked with a move away and is arguably only playing while the owners find a replacement. Secondly, Jeffrén Suárez, a winger who also plays as a forward, formerly of Barcelona (he scored against Real Madrid) and Sporting Lisbon. Now 26 and still eager to prove himself, he has made himself very much open to a call-up, having previously played at every level except senior for Spain. Elsewhere in the Segunda is Julio Álvarez of Numancia, a creative player who was responsible for half of his side’s 42 goals last season, assisting with 14 and scoring 7. He was born in Venezuela but moved to Spain at four and represented the latter at youth level but with no senior call-up forthcoming he accepted the Venezuelan offer and began playing for La Vinotinto three years ago, making his debut at the age of 30. He hasn’t played for nearly two years but with a new manager, who knows. The last player from this league that will be on my radar is Josmar Zambrano of Recreativo Huelva (the oldest team in Spain). He’s a 22 year-old midfielder with two caps from experimental squads three years ago, but despite some injury setbacks he appears to be in Huelva’s plans this season and has already played in friendlies against a Barcelona XI and Sunderland, amongst others.

Moving on to Italy where Josef Martínez will be playing, one transfer saga has recently been resolved, with national stalwart Tomás Rincón finally choosing his next destination having let his Hamburg contract run down, with Genoa receiving his services for the upcoming season. Franco Signorelli, a midfielder who helped Empoli achieve promotion, will be looking to make a name for himself in the big league, a place where no Venezuelan to date has really prospered. Indeed, the remaining player still registered in this league is Rafael Romo, goalkeeper at Udinese. However, his side is not short of goalies and the writing appears to be on the wall, with moves to either Venezuela or Spain having been rumoured.

Over in France, two key national team players, striker Fernando Aristeguieta and defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, have both been involved in Nantes’ pre-season, the latter more so as the former picked up a minor injury along the way. Elsewhere, at newly promoted FC Metz, Juan Falcón will be looking to make a name for himself on the European stage after his move from domestic champions Zamora FC, where he bagged a goal ratio of over one in two. In the league below, Grenddy Perozo will hopefully be able to plug the defence of recently relegated Ajaccio, a task made all the more difficult after the loss of the Mexican Jesus, Guillermo Ochoa.

Two remaining European-based players will be monitored. Firstly, the experienced former Bilbao defender Fernando Amorebieta, currently of Fulham, who has been the source of some transfer speculation, with a move to Málaga at one point seeming imminent. He has not featured in any Fulham friendlies thus far, though this may be more due to an alleged injury. Secondly and finally, is Ronald Vargas, a talented midfielder who has had a fair share of injury problems and was released from his contract at Anderlecht. He has recently joined the newly promoted Balıkesirspor in the Turkish top-flight. As their official Facebook page shows, they did hold a real mother of a blowout for him – almost Darius Vassell proportions.

South America

Colombia is home to two talented Venezuelans and both have actually played competitive football this season. Alejandro Guerra, who joined giants Atlético Nacional on loan earlier this month from Mineros de Guayana in Venezuela, has featured once apiece in their league and cup campaigns without embarrassing himself. The somewhat more illustrious midfielder Luis Manuel Seijas has been in action all season for Santa Fe, playing regularly in both league and cup matches, helping his team to a 100% record in the latter. Just one week ago, he scored an absolute scorcher in a friendly against Deportivo de La Coruña. 

Over in Chile, where the top-flight kicked off less than two weeks ago, there are also two players of note who have been performing for their respective clubs. Forward Emilio Rentería has looked a handful for newly promoted San Marcos, having several chances in his first game, scoring in a cup match last midweek and then netting a volley at the weekend in a 2-1 loss to Ñublense, the team of our other man, Javier González. He did not actually feature in that match – whether his team’s 3-0 opening day hiding at the hands of Huachipato had anything to do with that, one can only speculate.

North America

The uncapped Bernardo Añor has been having a promising season at Columbus Crew in the United States and it is surely only a matter of time before Sanvicente gives him a try. He is well into the season and has shown his versatility by playing at both left-back, left-wing and in midfield. Ten days ago, he scored two match-winning goals as his side came from behind to defeat Montreal Impact – the second has shades of Bobby Charlton vs. Mexico in ’66. For trivia fans, he is in fact the brother of Juan Pablo Añor at Málaga and their father was also a professional football player, which seems to be abnormally common amongst the Venezuelans.

Mexico is now home to Venezuela’s two all-time joint top-scorers, Juan Arango and Giancarlo Maldonado. Arango left Europe after ten successful seasons to return to Mexico with Xolos de Tijuana. So far it has not quite been the dream return as his side went down unexpectedly at home to Puebla in his first match, with Arango receiving harsh criticism afterwards for his rather subdued performance. His second match got off to a good start as he converted a penalty against Club América, but his side could not hold on and were defeated 2-1 in the Azteca. One league below, Maldonado has returned to his old club, Atlante, and scored two goals in two league games. Despite his age, given the strength of Mexican football, a return to the national set-up does not seem out of the question.

Asia

Former Celta Vigo defender Andres Túñez has made a strong start to his spell in Thailand with Buriram United, even managing to get on the scoresheet side and help his side to the top of league – mostly whilst wearing a facemask which looks like it would not be out of place in the UFC.

Finally, former La Liga and Celtic striker Nicolás ‘Miku’ Fedor has recently started his pre-season with Qatari side Al-Gharafa, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win.

Thus ends the very first update of Venezuelans Abroad. The ones in the future won’t be so extensive and will not feature each players’ every move, but for now, these are the players that will be featured with varying regularity and I hope you will bookmark this page and keep track of their progress with me.