Valencia head into the local derby in great spirits having climbed to third in the La Liga standings, but los Che are determined to take advantage of Villarreal’s problems and claim maximum points at Mestalla. The Yellow Submarine are in problems after losing three of last four matches and it remains to be seen whether they can show some improvement on Sunday afternoon.
Valencia chiefs had high hopes ahead of the current season, but it was up to new coach Nuno Espirito Santo to integrate a host of new players and ensure los Che live up to the billing. The Portuguese wasted no time and quickly got the team playing to their potential, with their performances even improving as the season unfolded. With no European distractions to worry about, Valencia excelled in Spanish La Liga, and they have now leapfrogged reigning champions Atletico Madrid to climb to automatic Champions League berths. Los Che have been in excellent form of late, winning six of last seven league fixtures to cement their place in the top 4 and no doubt they will be in great spirits when they host local rivals Villarreal. Having carefully studied the way Sevilla recorded three wins over the Yellow Submarine in the space of just ten days, coach Nuno will be hoping to pile more misery on the El Madrigal outfit and help his side extend the amazing run of results that saw them climb to within four points of second-placed Real Madrid.
Jose Luis Gaya has recovered from a muscle problem and is expected to start, leaving Enzo Perez as the only unavailable player.
Sevilla become the nightmare opposition
Many pundits admired Marcelino Garcia Toral for this season’s results as Villarreal somehow managed to successfully compete on three fronts despite not exactly having a big squad to start with. However, the busy schedule eventually took its toll on the players and the past couple of months have been quite disappointing for the Yellow Submarine. The El Madrigal outfit were knockout of Copa del Rey and Europa League, while their top 4 run in La Liga effectively ended, and the interesting thing is that three defeats to Sevilla in just ten days had a major impact on club’s season. Villarreal were beaten in both Europa League encounters before also losing the La Liga tie to los Rojiblancos, although the good news is they still hold a five-point lead over Malaga in the race for the final European berth. Villarreal clearly have enough quality to match their local rivals at Mestalla, but with the players low on confidence and several important players still sidelined, the poor run of results might just continue for another week.
Bruno Soriano, Denis Cheryshev and Victor Ruiz are out injured, whereas Moi Gomez misses out through suspension.
Valencia are playing their best football of the season and having won six of last seven matches in La Liga, they have got to be regarded favourites to beat out-of-form Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine appear to be running on empty at the moment and their absentees will be severely missed at Mestalla.
Top pick: Home win 2.10 (11/10) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.73 (8/11) @ Unibet
Alternative pick 2: Home win + both teams to score 4.20 (16/5) @ Coral