Athletic Bilbao v Valencia – San Mamés at 15:15
Valencia head coach Marcelinho warned his players, “it’s impossible to win by playing like we did” against Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Los Che took the lead, courtesy of Michy Batshuayi’s opener, but were unable to see the game out, conceding a late leveler from the spot.
The 1-1 draw in Switzerland marked the ninth game already this campaign that has ended all-square for Valencia and the current boss admitted, “I’m struggling to find an explanation”. Last season’s surprise package have won just once across all competitions in 2018/19 and the pressure is now mounting on Marcelinho.
Los Che produced a game of two halves in midweek – deservedly taking a lead into the half-time interval before badly falling away in the second period. And having complained about his attack’s inability to score goals during their weekend draw at home to Leganes, the same concerns raised their ugly head.
Rodrigo Moreno and Kevin Gameiro should be handed an opportunity to lead the line for Valencia on Saturday in the Basque Country, whilst Daniel Wass has also been tipped for a recall. Meanwhile, the return to full fitness of last season’s Player of the Year, Goncalo Guedes, could provide a timely boost.
Valencia underrated on Saturday
With or without Guedes, there’s enough evidence to suggest the visitors are underrated in the pre-match markets, where Valencia +0.25 on the Asian Handicap line can be backed at 1.79 on Saturday. Marcelinho’s men have only been beaten by in-form Espanyol, and Juventus this term.
Indeed, Los Che have already survived unscathed from a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, as well as Mestalla matches against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Go back to the beginning of Marcelinho’s reign and Valencia have only been beaten in 7/23 (30%) away La Liga ties.
What’s more, the guests posting strong performance data. Only Barcelona can better Valencia’s 63% Expected Goals from open play ratio, with no Spanish top-flight side able to match their defensive numbers, giving up just 0.54 xG from open play per-game. That solid defence should stand them in good stead ahead of a trip to San Mames.
Athletic failing to fire
Like Valencia, Athletic are struggling for positivity after a bleak opening stanza under new head coach Eduardo Berizzo. Les Leones were held a stalemate at Rayo Vallecano in midweek, extending their winless streak to eight since a last-gasp goal gifted Bilbao three points against Leganes here on opening day.
The hosts have been convincingly turned over by a patched-up Real Sociedad side in the derby here, as well as Villarreal, during their first five home fixtures. Newly-promoted minnows Huesca also left with a point, whilst Athletic have yet to keep their sheets clean under Berizzo’s watch.
The hosts have no major injury concerns for Saturday but with an xG from open play ratio below the 40% line, and giving up almost 8.50 shots from inside the penalty area per-game, I’m happy to oppose the hosts here at a short price.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Valencia 0.25 at 1.790
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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