MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) talks us through his favourite fancy in the New Year’s Eve derby contest between Villarreal and Valencia.
Villarreal v Valencia | New Year’s Eve 15.00 | Sky Sports 1
Valencia have been top dogs in the region that takes the city’s name for a good 80 years. Los Che, undisputed kings of these parts, were untouched and barely batted an eyelid at any of their likely contenders. That was until 1997.
A Villarreal side that had spent most of their 80 years in the lower leagues of Spain were taken over by Fernando Roig, one of the three Roig brothers who had a strong hold on the economy, business and sport of Valencia.
Fernando was denied a shareholding by his brother when trying to invest in Valencia and so made a move on the club and town that housed his Mercadona business. With the strong financial backing, the Yellow Submarine soon started hitting the headlines and a rivalry was born.
Previously, Villarreal and Valencia fans would sit and watch games alongside each other in harmony. But the brotherly love between the two clubs evaporated when soon before (and certainly after) a 2004 UEFA Cup semi-final pitted the duo together.
A controversial penalty helped Valencia through that day and they’ve been snarling since. A decade after that continental clash, Valencia effectively relegated Villarreal in 2012 and celebrated it like they’d won the title. No longer were these two regional pals.
The simmering distaste between the duo has soothed a touch but the Derbi de la Comunitat does tend to be keenly contested. Like any sibling or intercity tug of war, this match matters and local bragging rights carry a decent degree of importance. As Taylor Swift can testify, there’s bad blood.
So Gary Neville’s visitors make the short trip up the east coast on New Year’s Eve well aware they’ll be no easy ride at El Madrigal. GNev is still searching for his first league victory following back-to-back draws with Eibar and Getafe.
Against Getafe, Los Che showed more intensity and a better attitude but they looked tired and drained. The mini Christmas break should have done them some good and they can welcome back Lucas Orban and Javi Fuego from suspension here.
Valencia have W0-D4-L1 of their past five in La Liga and are now nine points off the Champions League qualification places. Defensively they’ve struggled; their solitary shutout in 11 came against little Barakaldo in the Copa del Rey and they’ve failed to keep their sheets clean since September when playing away.
Talking of their road record, Los Che have W2-D2-L4 in La Liga this term with six of those opponents residing in the top-11 before Wednesday’s round of fixtures. Since the start of last season, Valencia have W9-D10-L8 on their travels with W3-D5-L4 at top-half clubs that aren’t Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Neville’s troops take on Real Madrid on Sunday and so these pair of fixtures could easily make-or-break Valencia’s season.
As for Villarreal, they’ve already dispatched both Real and Atletico Madrid on home soil this season and sit eight points ahead of their neighbours. Marcelinho’s men have bagged W8-D1-L1 in their past 10 in front of their home supporters with their only loss coming in injury time to Celta back in October.
Since the start of last season, the Yellow Submarine have W18-D2-L7 when welcoming La Liga opposition, scoring at least twice in 13/27 (48%). The hosts have Jaume Costa and Mario back and will be confident of extending their excellent run of results on home soil.
This contest features two of the best four backlines in the division but it’s a goals angle that stands out. The fixture has a history of goals – the past four head-to-heads have featured Both Teams To Score winners – and that’s also been the case in four of Valencia’s previous five away days as well as six of Villarreal’s eight at El Madrigal. A repeat is 11/10 with BetVictor.
Since the start of last season just 11/27 (41%) of Villarreal’s home outings featured BTTS but seven of those have come in the previous nine and since March they’ve leaked in 13 of their 21 home matches in all competitions.
Valencia have only failed to notch in 6/27 (22%) road trips during the same sample, keeping only five clean sheets. Unsurprisingly, the Both Teams To Bet angle has proven profitable regularly on the road for Los Che with 17/27 (63%) of away days obliging.
I’m also going to have a wee poke on Villarreal taking maximum points with BTTS. They’ve won five of their eight matches to produce goals for both sides this season and with Valencia winning just once in eight when both teams have scored, I reckon the 31/10 on offer has legs. After all, the Yellow Submarine boast a 67% win-rate since the beginning of 2014/15 at home.
Villarreal v Valencia – Both Teams To Score (11/10 BetVictor)
Villarreal v Valencia – Villarreal to win and Both Teams To Score (7/2 Bet365)
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