The reserve goalkeeper is one of the stranger positions in the squad. Managers don’t tend to rotate ‘keepers unlike the outfield positions. Thus, ‘keepers have to play more of a waiting game and take their opportunity as it presents itself. That is exactly what Sergio Rico has done this season after injuries to Beto and Barbosa thrust him into the spotlight. Sergio Rico has been solid in between the sticks and did enough to nail down the starting spot in this XI
Young Gimenez has slowly, but surely, made his mark on the side. Impressive performances have been shown whenever he’s had the opportunity, and with Godin aging, and Miranda constantly being linked to a move, Rojiblancos fans will be relieved to see the emergence of a strong young center back like Gimenez. The Uruguayan is a tough player, much like his senior colleagues, though there are some aspects of his game that still need to be ironed out
The French defender reads the game well but can use his electric pace to recover if caught out. The left-footed Laporte can slot in at left-back as well but it’s at centre-back his qualities shine through. He is calm and composed on the ball capable of bringing it out of the defence to supplement the attack. However, what stands out the most is his leadership ability. The Frenchman has emerged as a leader in the Athletic defence and could well do the same for France.
Valencia seem to have some sort of magic formula for producing quality left backs. Following in the footsteps of Jordi Alba and Juan Bernat, we have Jose Gaya. The academy graduate has made that spot of the team his own after steadily improving performances over the course of the season. The player’s work on the ball has only gotten better with game time, and he’s contributed well for Los Che going forward. Playing in the Champions League next season will be a just reward for all the efforts that he, and his team, have made over the season.
Darder is one of the players who has made his name for his graft and hard work. Playing at Malaga, after having come through their academy, he is a player who is adored by their fans, for his efforts, and his performances in the big games. Darder is an all round talent, able to make contributions going forward and defending. His competitive nature and combative style make it very difficult for the opposition against him, and his performance is always the key for Malaga.