Valencia v Espanyol – Mestalla Stadium at 15:15 GMT
Valencia have looked a little jaded in recent weeks. Los Che were held to a goalless draw by Real Sociedad at Mestalla last weekend and it took Marcelinho’s men until the second-half of that La Liga showdown to spark into life.
The rested Rodrigo made a positive impact off the bench as Valencia generated a reasonable 1.34 Expected Goals (xG) against stout opposition. Marcelinho felt it was two points dropped for Los Che, who restricted their opponents to a solitary on-target attempt ahead of their trip to Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday.
Fixture congestion is an obvious concern but there’s little doubt, in my mind, that Valencia have been underrated by the markets here. There’s enough talented options in the squad to allow for resting and rotation, whilst Valencianistes can point towards their outstanding efforts when holding Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou only a fortnight ago.
Valencia a good thing at Mestalla
After a frustrating opening stanza to the La Liga season – Los Che were touted for a top-four finish – the hosts were marooned in the bottom-half of the standings. Valencia drew eight of their opening 10 games as Marcelinho bemoaned his team’s lack of killer instinct in the final-third.
However, the home side have found their feet in winter, particularly at Mestalla. Valencia have W3-D3-L0 here in their past six outings, whilst churning out an impressive eight triumphs in their last 11 games across all competitions in front of their adoring supporters.
Performance data also points to Valencia being a far more impressive team than their league position suggests. Los Che are ranked second for Expected Goals xG ratio and even top the standings when only viewing xG ratio from open play – those sorts of returns make the -0.50 Asian Handicap very appealing at 1.83.
Espanyol unlikely to match Los Che
Espanyol earned a vital victory over Rayo Vallecano last weekend to earn Rubi a stay of execution. Los Periquitos had lost nine of their previous 11 La Liga encounters to slide down the table into the relegation picture; that win last time out has moved the Barcelona-based club five points clear of the drop-zone.
However, the visitors are still easily opposed. Espanyol have lost all seven trips to top-half teams this term, meaning they’ve now been beaten in 18/26 (69%) away days at the league’s elite since the start of 20161/7. What’s more, Los Periquitos are conceding the third-highest xG figure across the current campaign.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Valencia -0.50 at 1.830
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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