Mark O’Haire’s European Football Tips – Valencia v Villarreal
Substitute Adrian Lopez tapped-in a stoppage-time winner for Villarreal on Thursday night as the Yellow Submarine pinched a precious 1-0 victory against Liverpool in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final.
Valencia v Villarreal, Sunday 1 May 2016 (19.30), Sky Sports 3
But Marcelinho and his men may see their chances of qualifying for the Champions League through a top-four La Liga finish recede with a negative result at reasonably-local rivals Valencia on Sunday night.
Villarreal have taken just a solitary point from their past three league fixtures, losing their two road trips in that time at Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano whilst failing to pick up maximum points when Real Sociedad visited.
Only Atletico Madrid have faced fewer shots-on-target when playing away than the Yellow Submarine but at the other end of the pitch, no side in the Spanish top-flight has fired in fewer efforts than Marcelinho’s troops on their travels.
The visitors have triumphed in just five of their 16 games as guests in league action this season, only claiming top honours once in their most recent nine domestic duels. And in games preceding European encounters, Villarreal have managed just W3-D3-L5.
On Sunday night the Yellow Submarine are set to rest and rotate their weary squad with top scorer Cedric Bakambu, Jaume Costa and Eric Bailly all being given the night off to recover with Thursday’s trip to Anfield at the forefront of the Yellows’ ambitions.
In contrast, Valencia are looking to end a dismal season on a relative high. Los Che’s resurgence under the leadership of Pako Ayestaran has seen the Bats collect 10 points from a possible 12 of late, including a brave of victories at their Mestalla base against Eibar and Sevilla.
Valencia are now in the midst of their best run of form in 2015/16 and eager to see out of the campaign in style. The hosts should have been competing with Villarreal for a top-four finish and their late rally and wish to prove themselves should stand the side in good stead here.
Los Che have enjoyed a decent record when welcoming the Yellows to Mestalla in recent seasons (W4-D2-L0) and…
I reckon they can extend that fruitful return with three points on Sunday night at a handy 11/10 with Boylesports.
Valencia to win (11/10)
*Prices correct at time of publication.