EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heads to the final round of action in La Liga on Sunday for his latest European NAP.
Sevilla vs Valencia | Sunday 19 July 2020, 22:00
There’s little riding on Sunday night’s campaign-concluder from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as Sevilla host Valencia, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value play to promote.
In truth, these two have been treading water for the past few weeks. Sevilla secured Champions League qualification and a top-four finish under Julen Lopetegui quietly and comfortably with room to spare, whilst Valencia have continued to sleepwalk into on-and-off-field crises without an apparent plan, direction, ambition or aspiration.
And Valencia’s ongoing issues are the basis for this bet. I simply have to oppose Los Che…
Valencia belated sacked Alberto Celades at the end of June after a run of results during which the club won just twice in 13 games. A 2-0 defeat at Villarreal was the final straw, with Voro Gonzalez again taking over the caretaker role with Los Murcelagos.
Valencia have since registered back-to-back victories at Mestalla, extending their eye-catching efforts as hosts (W11-D7-L1) this term, the latest of which came against rock-bottom Espanyol on Thursday night (1-0). However, Los Che lost the Expected Goals (xG) battle (1.20 – 1.53) and the shot count (9-18) with Espanyol also twice hitting the woodwork.
To say, Los Murcelagos’ display in midweek was sketchy would be an understatement. And it’s not hard to understand why after news broke that the club’s despised owner Peter Lim is planning a mass clear-out with 12 players being shown the door this summer, including captain Dani Parejo, Rodrigo, Kevin Gameiro, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Francis Coquelin and Ezequiel Garay.
Valencia’s diabolical records
Morale, therefore, must be at rock-bottom at Mestalla. It’s a sorry state of affairs before we even encounter Valencia’s rotten road record; Los Che have been beaten in 11 of 18 away days, failing to score in seven, recording a solitary clean sheet and shipping two goals or more on 10 occasions. The visitors have taken two points from their last 10 road trips (W0-D2-L8).
In terms of performance data, it’s an abomination for a club of the size and stature of Valencia. Los Che boast a pathetic 32% xG ratio on the road (33% xG open play ratio), as well as sitting rock-bottom for ratio returns in the shots, shots on-target and shots in the box metrics. It beggars belief how this team have managed to burgle a top-half finish.
Even including matches at the Mestalla, Valencia are ranked in the bottom-three for xG and xG open play, as well as propping up the standings in all three aforementioned shot metrics. Put simply, if Sunday’s visitors weren’t called Valencia, Sevilla would not be available at odds-against quotes regardless of the state of play.
Sevilla to sign-off in style
As I outlined early on, this selection is largely based on Valencia’s abject outings and gloomy outlook from a players’ perspective. Although, we’re fortunate to have one of Spain’s classiest operators in opposition with Sevilla comfortably ranked inside La Liga’s top-four across all variables, as well as their strong 65% xG ratio at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The Andalusians have been functional rather than flashy during Lopetegui’s reign and still have a Europa League campaign to look forward to and so are unlikely to down tools just yet. Meanwhile, Sevilla have suffered only two home defeats– both by one-goal margins against Real Madrid and Villarreal – posting W9-D5-L0 when hosting sides in sixth and below.
Sevilla have been priced-up at odds-against quotes only four times here in the top-flight under Lopetegui’s watch (versus Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad) and Valencia really do not deserve to be the fifth on the list. At the time of writing, few firms had priced up the final round of La Liga action but the 5/4 (Marathon) on a home success is simply too big to ignore and is my European NAP.
Sevilla vs Valencia – Sevilla to win (5/4 Marathon)