EUROPEAN football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) unearths the value in Tuesday evening’s La Liga clash from the Mestalla.
Valencia v Leganes | Tuesday 20:30 | Sky Sports 3
Since Rafa Benitez left Valencia in the summer of 2004, Los Che have fired and fired 17 managers over a 13-year spell. That amount of change has meant head coaches have lasted on average just 0.72 years at Mestalla.
Voro has been given the permanent managerial position following his perennial caretaker role and the former Spanish centre-half has guided the Bats to a respectable W4-D3-L2 during his nine games in charge in 2017, staving off what was a very real threat of relegation.
Last Wednesday’s 2-1 triumph over Real Madrid saw West Ham flop Simone Zaza notch a brilliant goal and fellow January addition Fabian Orellana get on the scoresheet in a performance of passion, intent and aggression so often missing during 2016.
Valencia team news
Orellana is banned for Tuesday night’s encounter with Leganes and Nani’s injured, robbing Valencia of two key attacking weapons. Jose Gaya is expected to be pushed into midfield with Guilherme Siqueira filling in at left-back but I’d still fancy Los Che to continue their upward curve here.
Munir El Haddadi was excellent against Madrid and will continue in his role from the right in Valencia’s favoured 4-2-3-1 with Carlos Soler sitting in front of captain Dani Parejo and Enzo Perez. So there’s still plenty of craft and quality to create openings for the hosts.
The Bats have claimed four victories in their past six outings at Mestalla across all competitions and in La Liga their home record reads W3-D2-L1 since mid-October. In eight of their 11 home league contests this term, Valencia have scored at least twice and that appears our best value angle of attack.
Valencia can be backed at odds-against quotes 21/20 (Coral) to score at least twice on Tuesday and it’s a selection I’m more than happy to invest in despite Los Che chucking away a 1-0 lead after 75 minutes to lose 2-1 at Alaves on Saturday.
Only nine clubs are returning a better expected goals figure than Valencia and they’re coming up against a Leganes side that’s lost seven times on their travels already, shipping two or more goals in eight of 12 away days since promotion.
Leganes’ away struggles
The magnificently-named Cucumber Growers haven’t won away since October (at fellow strugglers Granada) and have W0-D2-L6 since – in seven of those fixtures the newcomers have leaked at least twice.
Asier Garitano’s group are only four points above the relegation zone and whilst they ended their 11-match winless streak in spectacular fashion at the weekend, stunning Deportivo 4-0 and scored a fifth of their season goals in one afternoon, I’m not expecting such an easy ride at the Mestlla.
Alberto should come back from a ban and head straight into holding midfield with Gabriel and Pablo Insua is eligible to start at centre-back. And although this side are fighters, their ragged nature on the road is likely to be exposed.
Leganes don’t give up too many shots or opportunities but they’re still averaging 1.56 expected goals against per-game when playing away, enough justification to support Valencia notching two or more goals.
Valencia v Leganes – Valencia to score Over 1.5 Goals (21/20 Coral)