Sevilla v Valencia – Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium at 19:30 live on Sky Sports 3
Twelve games into the La Liga season and the big-three are doing what the big-three tend to do – dominate. Whilst Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid keep their end of the bargain, Spain’s next best are struggling to keep their heads above water.
The white handkerchiefs have regularly been waved, boos and whistles have rung out and newspapers have ganged up to rip into both Sevilla and Valencia. Last season’s fourth and fifth-placed finishers are a combined eight points adrift of the top-three after 12 games with only Los Che standing a chance of progression in the Champions League.
On Sunday night, the two underachievers lock horns with defeat possibly resulting in the removal of the head coach of the unlucky loser; it’s that bleak.
Sevilla were involved in a 4-2 loss at Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek – a reverse that’s almost signalled the end of their European adventure for 2015/16. It’s been a deeply disappointing campaign for Unai Emery, who had guided the Andalusians to back-to-back Europa League titles and rejected the overtures of Milan in the summer to kick the club on.
Los Rojiblancos weren’t as bad as the scoreline suggested at Gladbach and although they were out-shot 27-17 (13-6 on-target), on another day Sevilla could have easily sneaked a point and notched a few more goals. There was enough verve, promise and intent to believe they’ll turn the corner.
Five defeats in seven certainly doesn’t look too good on Emery but four of those came on their travels and the hosts do boast a fearsome record at their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan home during domestic action. Across the past two La Liga campaigns, Sevilla have W17-D5-L3 in front of their home supporters.
Since Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid departed with maximum points in the early stages of this season, Sevilla have beaten both Barcelona and Real Madrid and scored 13 goals across their last four when welcoming La Liga opposition.
The home side hold a 68% win ratio at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan since the start of last season and with that in mind, I’m keen to get involved on a play involving a home win. Los Rojiblancos can be backed at 1.83 off a -0.50 Asian Handicap start and that’s the most appealing angle to take.
Like their hosts, Valencia do their best work on home soil and across the same sample, Los Che have W9-D7-L7 in league action. It’s three La Liga losses in four on their travels and although the 5-1 victory at Celta stands out, that game was most definitely an anomaly with Vigo dominated proceedings for large swathes.
Of those seven road defeats, three arrived by two or more goals (Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona and Deportivo) and despite their feeble attempts to pick up points away from the Mestalla, Los Che aren’t often cut adrift on the scoreline. With that in mind, it’s worth leaving the -0.75 or -1 Asian Handicap positions alone.
Visiting boss Nuno Espirito Santo’s under huge pressure to turn Valencia’s form around but the Bats are struggling with injuries and suspensions. Key defender Shkodran Mustafi is missing once more and following abject showings against Las Palmas, Zenit and Gent in recent weeks, the Portuguese head coach looks unlikely to stem the bleeding on Sunday night.
Sevilla have scored at least twice in 10 of their last 12 and whilst their defensive displays don’t often convince, a return to their rampant attacking ways could well see Nuno out of work come Monday morning. I’ll count on the Andalusians coming out on top at 1.83.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sevilla -0.50 Asian Handicap at 1.83
Prices correct at time of writing.
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