Normally this match would be kicking off around the time that Fallas takes over Valencia, but not this year. Perhaps the match can provide a few fireworks of its own, though. Both clubs come into this one needing a win—Villarreal haven’t won in the league since January 8, and have dropped three of their last five matches.
Valencia, meanwhile, lost to Getafe 3-0 last time out and are in fourteenth place in the table, with 27 points so far to Villarreal’s 37. Los Che have some good players—Carlos Soler, Maxi Gomez, Daniel Wass, José Gayà—but, perhaps, not enough of them. Geoffrey Kondogbia left in November, following the summertime departures of Rodrigo, Ferran Torres, Dani Parejo, Francis Coquelin, etc. and with significant financial constraints facing the club, coach Javi Gracia is doing his best.
Valencia fans are hoping that the rumors that Peter Lim is selling the club to a wealthy Malaysian prince are true (though they’ve been denied by club president Anil Murthy). What that would mean for investment in the club isn’t known, nor whether the Nou Mestalla stadium project can get completed, but most Valencia fans seem to feel any new owner would be better than Peter Lim.
Valencia play a 4-4-2 with Soler (an excellent penalty-taker) and Maxi Gomez as their main threats. They’ll be without ex-Villarreal man Denis Cheryshev—injured again—and Mouctar Diakhaby picked up a straight red against Getafe, so will miss this one.
Villarreal are gradually getting players back from the infirmary—Mario Gaspar being the latest, after Samu Chukwueze returned on Sunday. Rubén Peña is still out, so too Iborra and Alberto Moreno, and Francis Coquelin is unavailable too. Naturally. As for Paco Alcacer, he’s got another muscle problem, and whether he’ll be available, I don’t know.
This just feels like a match that is bound to disappoint everyone on both sides looking for a win, don’t you think? I predict a 1-1 draw, but I’m hopeful Villarreal can build on some of their play against Atleti and pull out all three points here. Endavant!