Valencia’s Champions League qualification is in danger following the 1-0 defeat to Malaga and los Che now aim to return to the right track with three points from this match. Osasuna remained in contention for Europa League places with one point from El Madrigal, but they could face a much tougher task at Mestalla.
Valencia struggling for form
Soon after the league campaign started Valencia climbed to third place in the standings and they became hot favourites for the ‘best of the rest’ title. The team played really well in the first part of the season and they managed to create a bid advantage over their top 4 rivals despite constantly shifting their focus between Europa League and La Liga, but los Che experienced some problems at the end of March and their Champions League qualification was no longer safe. It appears that the busy schedule and injuries to star players disrupted the team’s rhythm, resulting in several under-par results, but the most important thing is Valencia are still masters of their own destiny. In spite of the narrow defeat to Malaga, los Che remain in third place, three points clear of fifth-placed Levante, meaning that a win over Osasuna would probably ensure them Champions League qualification. Following 4-1 win over Rayo and 4-0 triumph against Real Betis in their last two home games, Unai Emery’s side should have no problems beating Osasuna.
Sofiane Feghouli is suspended, while Jeremy Mathieu is injury doubt. David Albelda returns from suspension, whereas Jonas, Pablo Hernandez and Dani Parejo should return after they were rested at the weekend.
Osasuna not giving up
Together with Real ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Betis, Osasuna are probably the strangest side in Spain’s elite division seeing that you never really know what to expect from them. Their inability to match the best sides in the league has seen them concede no less than 24 goals in four games against the title contenders, whereas 6-0 defeat to struggling Rayo Vallecano was just another major embarrassment. Oddly enough, in spite of some heavy defeats and disappointing performances, Osasuna now sit just one point behind the Europa League places, meaning they need to try and get something from this game. That will be no easy task seeing that Valencia boss Unai Emery has a much bigger squad than his counterpart and can introduce several fresh players, which is something that Jose Luis Mendilibar will not be able to do. On top of that, Osasuna were very lucky to bring one point from El Madrigal and I seriously doubt they can do the same at Mestalla.
Defender Miguel Flano is a major doubt, while Sergio Fernandez, Kike Sola, Jon Echaide and Masoud Shojaei are definitely out.
Valencia may be struggling on the travels, but their last two home showings have been nothing short of impressive and they are expected to continue the good run against Osasuna. Los Rojillos have been pretty disappointing of late and they clearly don’t have enough quality to match 3rd-placed los Che.
Our prediction: Valencia/Valencia (half-time/full-time win)
Odds: 2.20 (6/5)