VALENCIA 2003/04: LO IMPOSIBLE HECHO REALIDAD

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¿Quién iba a imaginarse, tras la polémica pretemporada, que el Valencia lograría el doblete? Prácticamente nadie. La historia del Valencia en la temporada 2003–2004 es la de un equipo que supo sobreponerse a los problemas económicos (lo que no le permitió moverse en el mercado como deseaba) para alzarse con un doblete histórico: el primero en sus, hasta entonces, 85 años de historia.

La situación era tensa, y la relación entre afición y presidente, nula. Rafael Benítez no obtuvo los fichajes que él deseaba y, por si esto fuera poco, vio como jugadores importantes se iban sin que pudiese hacer nada al respecto. ¿El problema? El de siempre: económico. Samuel Eto’o, uno de los objetivos, se les escapo; Kily González, uno de los ídolos de la afición, se marchó inesperadamente al Inter de Milán, y Roberto Fabián Ayala pudo fichar por el Real Madrid. Benítez llegó a afirmar que “esperaba un sofá y me han traído una lámpara”. Todo ello, provocó una sonora pitada de la afición al presidente, Jaime Ortiz, en la presentación del equipo.

Liga: justo campeón en la montaña rusa

Pese a todos los problemas, el inicio fue excepcional. Tras el empate a 1 en la jornada inaugural frente al Valladolid, los de Turia encadenaron 4 victorias consecutivas –3 de ellas contra Atlético (0 – 3), Madrid (2 – 0) y Barça (0 – 1)–, lo que les permitió situarse líderes. Los ches eran seguros defensivamente, y contaban con dos futbolistas letales arriba: Mista y Ricardo Oliveira.

Pese a pasar por algún bache, el equipo dirigido por Rafa Benítez, finalizó la primera vuelta como campeón de invierno con 43 puntos, uno más que el Real Madrid y seis que el Deportivo La Coruña. Sin embargo, un inicio irregular en la segunda vuelta le hacía volver a perder el liderato: el Valencia empataba a 0 contra el Valladolid, perdía 0 – 1 ante el Osasuna y se paseaba versus el Atlético por 3 – 0. Llegaba entonces uno de los partidos claves de la temporada: el encuentro contra los galácticos. Una victoria servía para regresar a la cima. No obstante, y a pesar de jugar un partido sublime, un penalti inexistente y agónico señalado por el árbitro Tristanta Oliva, dejaba el 1 a 1 final. Los ches se verían afectados por ello, y caerían contra Barça y Espanyol en las dos siguientes jornadas, situándose a ocho de un intratable Real Madrid. El momento más complicado.

En la siguiente jornada, Valencia tuvo su punto de inflexión. Como local ante Deportivo La Coruña, goleó por 3-0, y a partir de allí, encadenó seis victorias consecutivas, que le permitieron regresar a lo más alto. Algo que pudo ayudar, es que el Real Madrid se vio hundido luego de ser eliminado en Copa del Rey y Champions League, por lo que su estado anímico también mermó a la hora de desempeñarse en la Liga.

Las derrotas del Madrid ante el Mallorca, y del Barça contra el Celta, le dio al Valencia el primer match ball el 9 de mayo de 2004. Se enfrentaba al Sevilla en el Sánchez Pizjuan. Con goles de Vicente y Baraja se sobrepuso a la presión y se alzó campeón. Finalizó con 77 puntos, cinco más que el Real Madrid, seis que el Deportivo y siete que el Barça.

Copa de la UEFA: el colofón final

La competición fue larga y dura. La ilusión era llegar lo más lejos posible, sin perder de vista la posibilidad de alzarse con el título. Tras remontar en octavos y pasar cómodamente en cuartos, las semifinales se convirtieron en la piedra más dura de roer. El rival fue Villarreal, con todo lo que ello supone. En el partido de ida, disputado en el Madrigal, el resultado final fue de 0 – 0, lo cual no satisfacía a los ches, dado que no habían marcado en campo contrario. No encajar goles en la vuelta iba a ser clave. Y así fue: el Valencia se impuso por la mínima: 1-0, con gol de Mista tras un polémico penalti.

El 19 de mayo se disputó la final frente al Olympique de Marsella. Valencia era favorito, y así lo demostró: antes del descanso, Vicente transformó un penalti que además provocó la expulsión del portero rival, Fabian Barthez. Y en el minuto 57, los de Rafa Benítez sentenciaron en un contragolpe letal finalizado por Mista. El Valencia lograba el doblete por primera vez en su historia.

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Estudiante de la Abat Oliba de Barcelona. Amante del Barça, del PSG, de España y de Bélgica. Messista. Al éxito se llega de fracaso en fracaso.

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