Alaves v Celta Vigo – Mendizorroza at 15:00 live at Sky Sports
It’s been a fabulous first campaign back in the Spanish top-flight for Alaves. El Glorioso never looked in danger of immediate demotion and have consolidated their La Liga position in mid-table whilst also relishing their underdog role.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men have triumphed in Barcelona and Villarreal, as well as picking up points from trips to Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. But their biggest achievement has been securing a Copa del Rey final berth later this month.
Alaves ousted Sunday’s opposition Celta Vigo at the semi-final stage to secure only their second ever cup final – a remarkable achievement for a club that only four years ago were playing in the regionalised, four-division, 80-team, theoretically amateur Segunda Division B.
Alaves back on the ball
Following the wild celebrations that followed their semi-final success, Alaves dropped off the pace but Pellegrino’s steadied the ship once more with the side from Vitoria impressing again with energy and drive – two crucial characterises of Alaves’ play under the head coach’s watch.
El Glorioso have taken 11 points from their past 15 available (W3-D2-L0) and have suffered a sole reverse in seven when welcoming league opposition to their Mendizorroza base, which bizarrely came against already relegated Osasuna.
Nevertheless, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal have both fallen here in recent weeks and with Alaves boasting a full compliment of players bar Victor Laguardia, the hosts appear good value at 1.80 to overcome a -0.50 Asian handicap hurdle here.
Rodrigo Ely is expected to start at centre-back alongside Zouhair Feddal in Laguardia’s absence whilst Edgar should be chosen ahead of Gaizka Toquero on the right-hand side of the attack, with Pellegrino unlikely to make any major changes.
Reasons to oppose Celta
The hosts have W3-D2-L1 in their last six encounters with Celta – including that Copa del Rey two-legged triumph – and have never lost when welcoming the side from Vigo to Mendizorroza (W6-D3-L0) so there’s plenty in their favour.
Celta arrive having suffered a heartbreaking Europa League exit to Manchester United at the semi-final stage on Thursday evening and head coach Eduardo Berizzo is expected to continue his policy of using a heavily rotated side pre and post European football.
The visitors had placed all their eggs into the Europa League basket with their league form suffering. The Galicians have lost six of their past seven domestic matches, failing to even score in four, and look unlikely to reverse that record this weekend.
Andreu Fontas is back after suspension for the away side, which means Facundo Roncaglia and Gustavo Cabral should both get a rest, whilst Theo Bongonda is likely to start in attack in the Celta second string side.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Alaves -0.5 Asian Handicap (1.80)
Prices correct at time of writing.