Football is back in Spain with Levante set to play host to local rivals Valencia at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia.in the first cross city derby of the season.
The local derby has proven to be quite an entertaining affair in recent years but things have not been very rosy for Los Che in recent times.
There was a time when Valencia were one of the bigger sides in Spain but those days are now a distant memory. Los Che finished in the top half of the league standings last season and were only three points off a place in Europa League.
However, their finish was considered a disappointment. Moreover, they were thrashed 8-4 by Serie A highflyers Atalanta in the two legged Champions League last 16 encounter. Finishing inside the top six was the main target.
However, after replacing Albert Celades, Javi Garcia was unable to get the job done. Nonetheless, Garcia would be looking to revive the club’s ailing fortunes and it would not prove to be an easy task given the club’s financial woes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Valencia needing a good start
Perhaps the game against Levante could be the starting point of something better for Los Che. Valencia are currently unbeaten in their last six games against Levante so another win could be on the cards.
Levante on their part, would head into the next season full of confidence following a great 2019/20 campaign. Los Granotas finished 12th in the league standings and manager Paco Lopez would be looking to repeat something similar this time around.
Levanter have signed Jorge de Frutos and Dani Gomez this summer but Borja Mayoral’s departure would have an impact. The Spaniard spent the last season on loan and is back with parent club Real Madrid.
Levante have proven to be a stable La Liga club but their away record has been pretty patchy to say the least. They have won only once in their last 20 away games in the league since May 2019 so their manager would be looking to ensure that his players are more solid at home.
Valencia pre-season form: WWDW
Levante pre-season form: WDWWW
Jasper Cillessen, Toni Lato and Kevin Gameiro are expected to play no part in Valencia’s opening day encounter with Levante due to injuries.
Portugal international, Goncalo Guedes is also nursing a minor injury but is expected to be fit in time for the game. Maxi Gomez on the other hand, is expected to lead the attack.
Eliaquim Mangala is expected to pair up with Gabriel Paulista in a bid to stop the flow of goals and neutralize an unpredictable Levante attack.
Levante would have been hoping to see Roger Marti come with the goods. The striker has scored four goals in his last four games against Los Che. However, he is out of this encounter and will be replaced by Pedro Leon.
Summer signing De Frutos is set to make his debut while Gomez will have to wait a little longer to play his first game for Levante.
Ruben Vezo is expected to miss the encounter which means that Rober Pier and Oscar Duarte are set to start the game against Valencia.
Valencia possible starting lineup:
Domenech; Wass, Gabriel, Mangala, Gaya; Racic, Kondogbia; Vallejo, Lee, Guedes; Gomez
Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Miramon, Pier, Duarte, Clerc; Frutos, Campana, Radoja, Bardhi; Morales, Leon
While Levante are definitely not one of those teams who struggle to score goals, they don’t do enough to protect their lead. Lapses in concentration are quite an issue which is why Valencia would take advantage and end up registering a much needed victory against a team they simply love to beat.
Predicted final score: Levante 1-2 Valencia