Valencia vs Athletic Bilbao
Mestalla 18:00 09/11/2014
High-flying Valencia host an out of sorts Athletic Bilbao this Sunday evening at the Mestalla. Valencia currently sit in second place in the table, only one point adrift of the inform Real Madrid. Meanwhile Bilbao have had a troubled start to the season and currently sit in 12th position, a massive 8 points behind the final Europa League place.
Valencia On Form
The resurgence of Valencia cannot be understated, Los Che currently sit in second place in the table having only lost one of their ten la Liga matches, a surprise 3-0 defeat to newly promoted and former Champions Deportivo De La Coruna in October. Not only have the results been terrific so far this season at the Mestalla but the performances have been eye catching, in fact Valencia has scored three goals in seven of their first ten matches, scoring three against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Villarreal and Espanol. They may not have the star names of that fantastic Valencia side in the late 90’s, early 2000’s but their Portuguese coach Nuno Espirito Santo has managed to pull together a very decent side with a mixture of youth and experience and he seems to be reaping the rewards.
Santo’s Side Bounce Back
“To the untrained eye, this could look like it’s rubbish and I haven’t bounced back”
Despite such a heavy defeat to Deportivo, coach Santo has forced a reaction from his players and they put in two terrific displays in their last two matches, defeating Elche and a difficult Villarreal side by three goals to one. If they have ambitions about once again playing in the Champions League then they must be able to keep the same level of performance and consistency they have shown so far this season, starting with Sunday evenings big tie against Bilbao.
Possible Valencia Formation
After such an excellent first year in charge, Ernesto Valverde’s side were much fancied to continue in the same vain and challenge for a top four finish. Things were looking very promising back in August when they surprised a lot people by deservedly putting Napoli to the sword in their Champions League qualifier. So where did it all go wrong? Well it’s plain and simple, the players simply have not performed so far this season. Last year, their first at the New San Mames they made their state of the art new stadium a fortress, a place where all teams dreaded to face the Basque side, however this season Valverde has not been able to get the same level of intensity or performance and Los Leones have only managed eight points out of a possible 15 in their home matches so far. Their away form hasn’t been much better having lost four of their five away matches.
The performances and results have been poor in the Champions League too, currently sitting bottom of Group H with only one point with practically no chance of qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League or Europa League.
A Return To Form?
Last weekend Bilbao managed an excellent return to form in La Liga defeating a top Sevilla side 1-0 at the San Mames and perhaps that result could kick start Valverde’s side to push on and move up the table. After the match Valverde reiterated how vital the victory was:
“It’s impossible to put a value on how much these points were worth for both teams. This was a hard-fought encounter, against a very strong opponent and a great spectacle for the fans,” he told the Spanish press.
“Now we’re feeling a lot calmer and happier, because we’ve beaten a great opponent.
“I hope that beyond the points we’ve earned today, this gives our confidence a further boost, ahead of our upcoming games.”
If this Bilbao side have any aspirations of playing European football next season then it’s a must that they come away with something from the Mestalla or could see themselves as much as 11 points adrift of a European place and all but out of contention after only 11 matches.
Possible Athletic Bilbao Formation
- Valencia have scored at least three goals in their last five home matches in La Liga.
- Valencia have won their last six home matches in La Liga.
- In the last six meetings between the sides Valencia have two wins, Bilbao one win and there have been three draws.
These sides have had contrasting starts to the season with Valencia showing some glimpses of former sides, whereas Bilbao have been indifferent so far and have looked somewhat out of sorts. Despite Bilbao defeating an excellent Sevilla side last weekend I can’t see anything but a comfortable Valencia victory in this one.
Valencia 3 Athletic Bilbao 1
Have Athletic bounced back? Can Valencia maintain their challenge at the top? Let us know your thoughts below or on Twitter @90Minutecynic.
You can follow Marek @Don_Fulcio.