Valencia v Villarreal – Mestalla at 15:15

Back-to-back away defeats – Valencia’s first losses of the season – have seen Los Che drop down to third in the La Liga standings but there’s no real evidence to suggest the Bats can’t continue to compete in the upper echelons of Spain’s top-tier this term.

Following years of frustration, financial problems, fan protests and flattery to deceive, Valencia is finally moving back in the right direction under the shrewd leadership of head coach Marcelinho.

Unpopular president Lay Hoon Chan left with general director Mateu Alemany arriving to takeover the day-to-day running of the club in the summer. With a number of bad apples also removed from the dressing room, there’s an air of stability and positivity surrounding Los Che with supporters also back onside.

Marcelinho’s been given the clout to build a team in his own image – fitness obsessed and counter-attacking with pace – and Valencia’s shrewd summer investment has been paying dividends with Goncalo Guedes and Geoffrey Kondogbia particularly impressing.

Team news

Last weekend’s 2-1 reverse at Eibar was disappointing but Los Che could point to the suspension of top scorer Simone Zaza, plus the fact Guedes was only fit enough to play the final 20 minutes on his return from injury. Both key forwards will be ready to return to the team for Saturday’s encounter.

Portuguese starlet Guedes has made a major impact since his loan move from PSG with the Bats winning all seven games he’s started, averaging 3.71 goals. However, without him Valencia have managed just W2-D3-L2, highlighting his importance.

The hosts are still unbeaten at Mestalla this season with only Barcelona and Atletico Madrid departing with anything other than a defeat (W6-D2-L0). And with Valencia racking up 18 goals across those six triumphs, the home side should have enough firepower to land another success here at 1.87.

Villarreal

Villarreal remains sixth, 10 points further back from Valencia, after putting an end to their run of three straight defeats in all competitions by squeezing out a narrow 1-0 success at Celta Vigo 1 last Sunday. It was the Yellow Submarine’s first victory in five.

The visitors remain relatively poor travellers (W3-D3-L4) despite visiting only one top-six side in La Liga thus far and whilst winger Dani Raba and star forward Cedric Bakambu are back from suspension, fellow strikers Carlos Bacca and Nicola Sansone remain banned with defender Daniele Bonera also struggling with injury.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Valencia -0.50 at 2.060

By @MarkOHaire

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