Valencia’s Derby: Five Key Players

This derby is one of the most underrated in Spanish football, with the two teams having thrown up some classic games over the years. Here’s a look at some of the most legendary players to have starred in this fixture. 

David Villa (Valencia, 2005-2010)  

David Villa became a true legend for Valencia as he banged in the goals up front for Los Che across half a decade. During his time at Mestalla, however, he only ever featured in four city derbies due to Levante’s prolonged spell in the second tier. He wasted no time in making his mark on the city rivalry, however, single-handedly making the 2008 derby his own with a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at the Ciutat de Valencia. 

Pablo Piatti (Valencia, 2011-2016) 

The former Espanyol player enjoyed his derbies while at Valencia, scoring four times against the Granotas across 15 appearances to become the fixture’s top scorer. One of those goals came in a 2-0 league victory in 2013/14, while the other three came in a 2011/12 Copa del Rey quarter-final tie, which Valencia won by a whopping 7-1 scoreline. 

Riga Mustapha (Levante, 2005-2008) 

Levante’s biggest-ever derby victory over their city rivals was the unforgettable 4-2 success in the penultimate round of the 2006/07 season, a result which ensured their survival in the division. Ghanaian-born Dutch midfielder Riga Mustapha was the man of the hour as he netted twice, including the opener after only three minutes.  

Keylor Navas (Levante, 2011-2014) 

While Valencia have historically had more success than Levante, the so-called underdogs approached the derby in the second-to-last matchday of the 2013/14 season with a chance to move ahead of their rivals in the table. They did exactly that thanks to a 2-0 win. The goals may have been scored by Angel Rodriguez and Andreas Ivanschitz, but the real hero was keeper Keylor Navas, who pulled off a goalkeeping masterclass to deny the visitors a way back into the game. Unfortunately for Levante, a loss to Malaga on the final day of the season couple with a Valencia win saw Los Che leapfrog them to finish eighth, with Levante in tenth. 

David Albelda (Valencia, 1998-2013) 

David Albelda is a true Valencia legend, having been their captain and having made over 400 appearances for the club. The midfielder matched up against Levante 10 times during his career and had an excellent record in these derbies by winning five, drawing four and losing just once. He never scored against Levante, but that wasn’t his job. Albelda was the anchor of Che midfield, displaying grit and determination to lead his side to some important derby victories. 

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