Los Che To Keep It Tight Versus Vallecano
Rayo Vallecano v Valencia
Valencia travel to the Spanish capital to take on Rayo Vallecano as the visitors edge within touching distance of a lucrative return to the Champions League next season.
A 2-0 loss against another Champions League-chasing side – Sevilla – last Sunday made it three losses in four for Rayo who’ve also conceded ten goals over a disappointing run that actually came on the back of three wins on the bounce.
Paco Jemez’s side are well clear of the relegation battle in the comfort of mid-table sat 12 points clear of Deportivo in 18th place although with Villarreal exactly the same amount of points ahead in the final Europa League qualifying spots there’s little left to play for in their five remaining La Liga games.
Alberto Bueno has enjoyed an appropriately good season in front of goal with 16 league goals to make him easily the ‘third’ Madrid club’s top scorer this term.
Valencia quickly got their recent loss to league leaders and title favourites Barcelona out of their systems with a 4-0 hammering of Granada at the Mestalla on Monday night to regain fourth spot in the table ahead of Sevilla by two points. Los Che have also got within four points of Atletico Madrid in third thanks to a run of form in which that defeat to Barca is the only time they’ve been beaten in their last 12, with eight wins over that period and five clean sheets in their last seven with Nuno Santo’s side now boasting the second-best defensive record in the division.
Daniel Parejo is the only Valencia player to register double figures in La Liga goals this season after scoring his tenth of the season from the spot against Granada while Francisco Alcacer is the club’s leading scorer overall with 11 in total.
Cristian Alvarez and Leo Baptistao are both still out for Rayo, who also have doubts over the availability of midfielder Raul Baena although Bueno should return to the starting line-up having missed out on their defeat in Seville.
Santo’s only doubts surround attacker Pablo Piatti and midfielder Shkodran Mustafi with both set to undergo late fitness tests before the game.
Head to Head
The last meeting between the sides came in the Copa Del Rey last December with the second leg finishing in an incredible 4-4 draw at the Mestalla which saw Valencia progress 6-5 on aggregate.
Los Che also won the reverse fixture 3-0 at home just three days prior to that eight-goal thriller but both sides recorded 1-0 wins in their respective home games last season and Rayo have won only two of nine meetings since the turn of the decade.
With no distractions in any other competitions Valencia will be solely focused on a top-four finish although they’ll need to improve on a relatively poor away record that’s seen them win only six of sixteen but I fancy them to do just that here at 20/23.
Goals have been in shot supply in the majority of away games for Santo’s side this season too so Under 2.5 is worth taking on at 21/20 but bigger payouts could also be worth looking into at 5/2 on an away win to nil and the correct score of 2-0 to Valencia at 9/1 very well priced too.