Can Valencia Repeat the Success of the Early 2000s?

Valencia CF, aka Los Che, with their orange shirts and the famous bat on their club logo, are one of the most popular and most successful clubs in Spain, but they have been quite successful in European terms as well. So far, Valencia has won 6 La Liga titles and in that respect the club is behind Real Madrid (33), Barcelona (24), Atletico Madrid (10) and Athletic Bilbao (8).

Los Che have also won 7 titles in the Spanish Cup, as well as 3 UEFA Cup titles (two of them were in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the predecessor of the UEFA Cup), as well as a title in the Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. The only title missing in the trophy room is popular ‘Big Ears’, the Champions League, albeit Valencia managed to reach the final on two consecutive occasions in 2000 and 2001.

Two Titles under Rafa Benitez

Valencia is by far the most successful club from the city of Valencia, Villareal and Levante also hail from the same city, but the two have been far less successful. Villareal might be Valencia’s most fierce rival, but the Oranges want to compete with giants of the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The 1940s were definitely the most successful decade for Valencia CF, as the club managed to win 3 titles in six seasons – 1941/42, 1943/44 and 1946/47. However, the club had to wait over 20 years to win another title in 1971, and subsequently Los Che had to wait for more than 300 years, before they finally managed to win another title in 2002, under the leadership of Rafa Benitez.

The revitalisation of Valencia began before Benitez’s arrival. Namely, the club reached the Champions League final twice in the previous two seasons, under the leadership of Hector Cuper, and Cuper also managed to lead them to the Spanish Supercup in 1999. In 2000 Valencia finished third, but the club collected the same amount of points as the second-placed Barça.

In his first season, Rafa’s Valencia broke the record set by Di Stefano’s Real Madrid, after managing 11 consecutive wins. That year Valencia won the title, and while the next 2002/03 was less successful, in 2004 the club managed to win the title again, despite the fact that they were 8 points behind Real Madrid after 26 matches. Rafa decided to leave the club that summer due to differences with the President, and it is fair to say that the club was struggling in the next decade.

Very Promising Season so far

In 2014, Peter Lim, a businessman from Singapore acquired more than 70% of Valencia’s shares and a new era began. In 2014/15 Valencia secured a position which led them to the Champions League, but in the following season they failed to do so. It looked as if the club is having serious problems and two coaches were sacked. The next season was even worse and Valencia finished in 13th position. The club seemed to be a mere shadow of its former self.

In the current 2017/18 things started to change, even though Valencia recorded only one win in the initial four matches, that was mostly due to the fact that two of them were against Real Madrid and Atletico. From the second half of September things started to change. Valencia won 7 consecutive matches, before drawing against Barcelona.

With almost half of the season behind us, Los Che see themselves in third position, 5 points ahead of current European and Spanish champions, Real Madrid. Simone Zaza who joined the club initially on loan, proved to be a great acquisition and scored 10 goals before Christmas, including hat-trick against Malaga on September 19. Rodrigo and Santi Mina have also been quite prolific in the first half of the season.

It is too early to tell, but it is already clear that this season is, at least, going to be more successful than the previous two, but the more optimistic fans hope for a Champions League qualification, which would be the first step in returning Valencia to its former glory.