Last year’s top 4 rivals have had a pretty disappointing start to the season, and while Valencia seem to have returned to the right track, Real Sociedad still remain dangerously close to the relegation zone. Los Che will see this match as a perfect opportunity to get revenge on La Real for beating them to the final Champions League berth last term.
This was always going to be a difficult campaign for Valencia after Miroslav Djukic took over the reigns and the likes of Roberto Soldado, Tino Costa, Fernando Gago and Nelson Valdez were allowed to leave. Los Che indeed struggled in the opening exchanges, losing three straight La Liga fixtures as well as a Europa League tie against Swansea following the opening win over Malaga. But, just as the press started talking about Miroslav Djukic losing his job, Valencia showed a considerable improvement to defeat Sevilla, Granada and Rayo Vallecano. Having also won the Europa League clash against Kuban Krasnodar and brought one point from the New San Mames, los Che clearly go into the match against Real Sociedad high on confidence. The departure of Adil Rami should further improve the atmosphere in the squad, which is likely to give the hosts a good chance to defeat severely weakened and out-of-form Real Sociedad. With all key men available for selection, Valencia look a good bet to extend their excellent run of results and get perfect revenge on their rivals for last year’s failure.
Ricardo Costa, Ever Banega and Diego Alves have all returned to the side, meaning Joao Pereira is the only unavailable player at the moment.
Tough times for La Real
If Real Sociedad had kept the entire squad together and added few more quality signings, they would have probably have a good chance to successfully balance between La Liga and Champions League campaign, but with the squad undergoing major changes in the summer, the team were never going to have an easy task this term. While the lack of European experience didn’t prove to be a problem in play-off matches against Lyon, it was there for everyone to see in group defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen, when La Real were harshly punished for some cheap mistakes. Meanwhile, inexperienced coach Jagoba Arrasate has struggled to get the best out of his team and he is now under intense pressure after picking up just 7 points from first 8 La Liga matches. With key players either underperforming or missing out through injury, Real Sociedad clearly face a difficult task against reborn Valencia, and I seriously doubt they will manage to end an eight-match winless run at Mestalla.
Key midfielder Xabi Prieto continues to miss out with a hamstring problem, whereas Esteban Granero, Dani Estrada and Diego Ifran are also sidelined.
Valencia have successfully managed to recover from the slow start to the season and they have been playing really well of late. Real Sociedad, on the other hand, are going through a very rough patch at the moment and I don’t think they have what it takes to match in-form los Che at their Mestalla.
Top pick: Home win 1.80 (4/5) @ Betfred
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.75 (3/4) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Valencia/Valencia 2.80 (9/5) @ Coral
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