Verdict: Valencia win
Best Odds: 7/10
With La Liga making its return to action for the first time since March this week, Valencia bragging rights will be up for grabs when the Bats welcome Levante to the Estadio de Mestalla on Friday night.
Starting with the hosts, crashing out of the Champions League courtesy of a woeful two-legged display against Serie A outfit Atalanta, the enforced break couldn’t have come quick enough for Valencia. Watching their top-six ambitions take a real dent after only snatching a point off of Alaves in their last La Liga appearance, the Bats have won just one of their last eight matches across all competitions and previously found the mood in their camp at a season-low. Marking their return to action three points adrift of breaking back into the European spots, Head Coach Albert Celades will be demanding his side make some much-needed alterations at the back. Including shipping eight goals in back-to-back defeats against Atalanta while on Champions League duties, Valencia have failed to record a clean sheet in any of their last eight appearances on the spin, shipping at least a pair of goals in six of those outings. However, although Friday’s hosts were continuing to show their inconstancies prior to the break, Celades should be boosted by his side’s eye-catching domestic record on home soil. Including a shock 2-0 win against defending champions Barcelona, Valencia are unbeaten at the Estadio de Mestalla in La Liga so far this season.
Still unable to shake off the injury issues they had prior to the break, Valencia will be without both Cristiano Piccini and Ezequiel Garay who are still dealing with knee injuries.
Elsewhere, after picking up a suspension back in March, Friday’s hosts will also be unable to call upon French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.
As for the visitors, marking their return to action this week, Levante simply have their sights set on ending the season on a high after finding themselves almost stuck in La Liga limbo. Entering the enforced break with a 1-1 draw against Granada, the Frogs had previously won just a pair of their last nine top-flight appearances and had gained a worrying reputation across Spain for their problems on the road. Including what some branded a season-worst display in a 3-0 hammering away at Eibar in their last matchup on their travels, Paco López’s men have lost their last five La Liga contests away from the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia and had continued to show some glaring issues at the back. A side who were really showing signs of fatigue prior to the break, Levante should also be concerned by their most recent meetings against their cross-town neighbours. Hit with a 4-2 drumming when they hosted the Bats earlier in the season, Granotas have been hit with back-to-back defeats against Valencia and have not beaten Friday’s hosts since 2016.
Levante will be glad to know that both Sergio Postigo and Ruben Rochina are available for a recall on their return to action this week.
Sadly for Friday’s guests, they will still be without Ivan Lopez who has been unable to overcome a long-standing knee problem.
Key Factors to Consider
- Valencia have picked up back-to-back victories against their local rivals, including a 4-2 win on the road earlier in the season.
- In fact, the Bats are unbeaten against Levante since 2016.
- Levante have lost each of their last five La Liga matches on the road, conceding at least a pair of goals in each of those defeats.
- Friday’s hosts are unbeaten at the Estadio de Mestalla on La Liga duties all season.
- Each of the five meetings between the two sides have seen both teams find the net by full-time.
While Valencia might have continued to show some worrying issues prior to the enforced break, the Bats should see Friday as a real opportunity to kick-start their campaign and once again pick up local bragging rights. With a glowing unbeaten record at the Estadio de Mestalla so far this season, a run highlighted by a 2-0 victory against Barcelona, Albert Celades’ men should also be boosted by their eye-catching record against their cross-town rivals. Given Levante’s glaring issues on the road, coupled with Valencia picking up back-to-back victories against the Frogs, we’re backing a similar outcome on Friday night.
Verdict: Valencia win
Best Odds: 7/10
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