La Liga feature: Valencia celebrate their centenary in style

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, March 20: Valencia, one of La Liga's most storied and iconic clubs, are heading into their centenary celebrations in style, with an upsurge in form recently seeing 'Los Che' finishing the season looking for success on all three fronts.

Valencia was officially formed on March 18th, 1919 and are the fourth most successful team in Spanish football history, having competed in 84 of the 88 La Liga seasons to date, winning 22 trophies including six La Liga titles, seven Copas del Rey and the 2004 UEFA Cup. But how did they get to where they are today?

Having started out playing in the Valencian Community's regional championship, Valencia entered the Copa del Rey from 1923 and were placed in the Segunda Division - now known as LaLiga 1l2l3 - when La Liga began in 1929.

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Within three seasons they had earned promotion to the top flight and they quickly established themselves as one of Spain's biggest clubs, winning a first La Liga title in 1941-42, and two more in the following five years.

Great Los Che side

Further championships have followed in 1971, 2002 and 2004.

The last great Los Che side to win a league title was managed by none other than Rafa Benitez and led by current LaLiga ambassadors David Albelda, who took the reins from fellow La Liga Ambassador Gaizka Mendieta.

Camp de Mestalla

Within walking distance of the city centre, just across the old river bed of the Turia, is Valencia's 'Camp de Mestalla', which has hosted the club's games since May 1923, making it the oldest football stadium in La Liga.

Regularly renovated over the decades, and a host of games at both the 1982 World Cup and 1992 Olympic Games, Mestalla currently seats 55,000 and is renowned to be one of the most atmospheric stadiums in La Liga.

Closest neighbours

Valencia's closest neighbours in La Liga are the city's other team Levante, who in recent years have provided a stiff test in regular derbies.

There is also local rivalry with Villarreal, from the neighbouring province of Castellon.

This season Marcelino's side drew away at both Levante and Villarreal, winning the return game 3-0 against the Yellow Submarine, with another city derby against Los Granotas at Mestalla coming up on April 14.

Vital members

Other vital squad members include Spain international striker Rodrigo Moreno, Central African Republic midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, Portuguese winger Goncalo Guedes and Brazilian goalkeeper Neto Murara.

The remaining months of the campaign will see Valencia aim for a top four La Liga finish, as well as facing Barcelona in early June's Copa del Rey final and continuing to progress in the Europa League. Los Che look set to continue their success well into their second century of existence.

Combative leader

The 2018-19 club captain is Dani Parejo, a Spain international midfielder who has emerged as a skilful and combative leader over recent seasons.

The club's excellent 'cantera' youth system has also supplied left-back Jose Gaya and young midfielders Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres. South Korean starlet Lee Kang-In is another to watch for the future.

Fan base

The club's current successful era has been overseen by Singaporean Peter Lim, maximum shareholder since 2014, and current president Anil Murthy.

This has seen a big focus from the club on international marketing and expansion, with a significant growth in the club's global fan base.

(Source: MSL Media)

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