Levante v Villarreal – Estadi Ciutat de València 21:00 GMT+1
Levante were amongst the most entertaining sides to watch in La Liga last season as the 125 goals total across their 38-games was only second to the 126-goal tally in Barcelona’s fixtures. However, Los Granotas opened their 2019/20 account with a dismal 1-0 defeat away at Alaves last weekend.
At least it wasn’t for the want of trying. Paco Lopez’s men fired in 16 attempts at goal and enjoyed 63% of the ball. Admittedly, Levante managed only one more shot from inside the penalty box than their opponents but the club from Valencia did edge the Expected Goals (xG) battle in a match that lacked entertainment.
A return to their Ciutat de Valencia home should at least inspire a more inspiring encounter on Saturday night when Villarreal arrive. Levante were the league’s fourth top goalscorers in 2018/19 with as many as 12 different players netting more than once. As hosts, only three teams averaged more goals per-game.
Los Granotas’ issues came at the back. Levante leaked the second-most La Liga goals last term, although Expected Goals (xG) suggests the porous backline could and should have conceded at least 13 goals more. It’s therefore no surprise to see the side concentrate on bringing in reinforcements at the back.
Paco Lopez could field an entirely new backline if he wishes having brought in centre-backs Ruben Vezo and Oscar Duarte, as well as right-back Jorge Miramon and left-back Carlos Clerc. Finding defensive cohesion could take time and I’d expect Levante to continue their eye-catching attacking approach at home.
Top goalscorer Roger Marti made his loan deal from Valladolid permanent in the summer, while Los Granotas kept hold of all their main attacking and midfield options, ensuring they remain fun to watch. With that in mind, Over 2.5 Goals looks a little underrated as a 1.76 shot for Saturday night’s showdown.
Villarreal had an abysmal season by their standards in 2018/19, putting up with a relegation scrap for most of the campaign before a run of one loss from their final seven outings comfortably eased their worries. No one amongst the top 14 conceded more goals than the Yellow Submarine, and their thrilling curtain-raising 4-4 draw with Granada suggests those concerns have yet to be solved.
Ruben Pena and the experienced Raul Albiol arrived hoping to plug those backline woes but the Yellow Submarine were out-shot and allowed 11 efforts from inside the box against the newcomers last weekend, giving up a hefty 1.98 xG tally. That’s encouragement enough to support a goal-heavy game again.
With Levante crossing the Over 2.5 Goals barrier in 19/24 (79%) matches at the Ciutat de Valencia under Paco Lopez, with exactly half featuring at least four goals, it’s difficult to dismiss the generous 1.76 offering on three or more goals being plundered when the two teams meet on Saturday night.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 Goals at 1.760
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.