A clash against last year’s fourth-placed team in La Liga will be a perfect opportunity for Celta Vigo to prove their Champions League ambitions, following pretty solid showings against El Clasico rivals. Valencia, on the other hand, are in all sorts of problems at the moment, with midweek loss to KAA Gent their latest setback.
Celta Vigo appear to have quickly made the transition from relegation strugglers to mid table side to genuine top 4 contenders, but nobody can say they do not deserve to be in the exclusive company of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. The Sky Blues started showing promise under current Barca coach Luis Enrique, then did really well to achieve a top 8 finish under Eduardo Berizzo before soaring to unimagined heights this term. It is now clear that the Argentine coach has put together a great squad with the help from club management, where experienced winger Nolito stands head and shoulders above the rest. And with the La Masia graduate the ultimate team player, the Sky Blues must be delighted to have him at their disposal. Celta chiefs took a major gamble in the summer by recruiting striker Iago Aspas, who had utterly failed to prove his worth at Anfield, while also signing Daniel Wass from Evian, but the Spanish forward managed to rediscover his scoring touch in no time and it was his amazing showing against Barcelona, together with another masterstroke from Nolito, that saw Celta enjoy a 4-1 triumph over the Spanish giants. And having also fared pretty well in the home loss to Real Madrid, the Sky Blues can be trusted to see off out-of-sorts Valencia, especially with captain Augusto Fernandez returning to the side.
The long-awaited arrival of wealthy businessman Peter Lim did turn out to be a good thing for Valencia, at least for the time being, as the club were able to recruit some high-profile players that would have otherwise proved too expensive. But, not all of those transfer deals were spot on, with everybody at Mestalla probably now regretting the decision to splash out €30 million on Alvaro Negredo. In all fairness, the striker was never given a real chance to impress by coach Nuno Espirito Santo, who is now proving very stubborn by keeping the forward out of the squad for over a month now even if the player hadn’t done much wrong. And with Rodrigo Moreno missing through injury, Valencia have experienced problems in the attacking department, and this is especially true for their away matches. While the team’s home form have been pretty solid of late, the showings on the road leave a lot to be desired, with los Che losing four of last five away games in all competitions. The midweek’s defeat to Gent only went to prove that the team were far from the desired form and with first and second choice keepers missing as well as key defender and important midfielder, their chances of ending the barren run against high-flying Celta look pretty slim indeed. Aymen Abdennour, Enzo Perez, Rodrigo Moreno, Matthew Ryan and Diego Alves are all unavailable for selection.
Celta Vigo have been pretty consistent this season and recent wins over Barca, Sevilla, Villarreal and Real Sociedad will keep them in good stead for the Valencia game. Meanwhile, los Che are completely out of form, they are utterly disappointing on the travels while missing some key men, so home win appears to be the obvious choice.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 17/20
Bookmaker: William Hill
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