Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1
With La Liga opening the 2020/2021 campaign this weekend, Valencia will welcome Levante on the Estadio de Mestalla on Sunday night.
Starting with the hosts, going on what has been a real squad overhaul this summer due to a string of off-field issues at the Estadio de Mestalla, Javi Garcia’s new-look squad could have a rebuilding job on their hands this season. Already watching the likes of Rodrigo, Ferran Torres and club captain Dani Parejo leave over the past few weeks, the Bats made it clear this summer that everyone in their squad aside from left-back Jose Gaya are up for sale before the transfer window slams shut next month. While Valencia might have signed off the 2019/2020 campaign with a 1-0 loss away at Sevilla and had to settle for a ninth-place finish after showing some real issues after returning from the enforced break, they should take some solace from what has been an impressive pre-season run. Landing a 3-1 win against Segunda outfit FC Cartagena on home soil last week, they won three of their four contests during their summer preparations, with their only minor blip being a 0-0 stalemate against Sunday’s guests.
Along with a string of departures this summer, Valencia will be without the likes of Kevin Gameiro and number one shot-stopper Jasper Cillessen.
With Goncalo Guedes also nursing a knock and unlikely to feature, Maxi Gomez will likely lead the line for the Bats on Sunday night.
As for the visitors, going about their business in a quiet fashion after returning from football’s enforced break, Levante impressed many with their post-lockdown run. Along with signing off the extended 2019/2020 campaign with back-to-back victories against Celta Vigo and Getafe, the Frogs lost just three of their 11 La Liga contests after making a return to action. With their sights potentially set on mounting a top-half charge this time around, Head Coach Paco López was also filled with praise for his side’s recent success on their travels. Including 3-2 and 3-1 victories against Celta and Espanyol, Levante lost just one of their final five top-flight matchups away from the Ciutat de València. Looking to open the New Year with three points away at their local rivals, Sunday’s guests should also be boosted by what was an impressive run of form during their summer preparations. Last seen picking up a 1-0 win against Segunda outfit Castellón last week, López’s men were unbeaten in all of their five pre-season matchups, collecting four wins.
With Roger Marti still unable to feature on Sunday, it is likely that Pedro Leon will lead the line for Levante.
Ruben Vezo is another fitness doubt for the visitors, possibly meaning starts for Rober Pier and Oscar Duarte at centre-back.
Key Factors to Consider
- Including a 0-0 draw when the two sides faced off in a pre-season contest last month, Valencia and Levante also played out another stalemate when they met on La Liga duties back in June.
- Levante were unbeaten in all five of their pre-season appearances, collecting four wins.
- Valencia managed to score just a single goal in any of their final three La Liga contests last season.
- Four of the Bats’ final five top-flight contests on home soil finished with under 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
- Levante lost just three of their final 11 La Liga matchups after returning from the enforced break.
On paper, we could be in for what is a cagey encounter when Valencia and Levante open their La Liga campaigns on Sunday night. While the Bats might find themselves as a top pick with the bookmakers when their local rivals come to town this weekend, Javi Garcia’s side did show some rather glaring issues in the final third when signing off the extended 2019/2020 campaign. Managing to score just a single goal in any of their final three La Liga appearances this summer, expect chances to come at a real premium. With the two sides playing out a 0-0 draw in a pre-season contest last month, it is also worth highlighting that four of Valencia’s final five matchups on home soil have seen under 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1
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