Soccer Spain LaLiga 12 March 2023
Valencia vs Osasuna - Match Preview
Valencia manager Rubén Baraja blamed poor finishing for his team’s 1-0 defeat away to Barcelona last time out in what looked like a reasonable result against La Liga’s (LL) runaway leaders, although Baraja’s men did boast a one-man advantage for the final 30 minutes of the match. The result means the side sat in 19th are two points from safety after just one win across their last ten league outings (D1, L8).
Only three of those games have come under Baraja (W1, L2) and he might be buoyed by the tight nature of their recent encounters, which have seen six of Valencia's last seven LL games settled by a one-goal margin. The fact so many of those results have gone against them though sheds light on their attacking woes of late. The Bats have scored just two goals across seven LL outings, one of which was an own goal from the opposition.
Only three LL teams have a better defensive record than visitors Osasuna (GA: 23) coming into the round, making them far from the ideal opponent for Valencia to get over their blunt attacking issues. The visitors have also tended to enjoy their trips to the east of Spain and hold a pretty impressive record of just one defeat in their last eight away meetings with teams from the Valencian Community (W4, D3), including winning here last season.
Osasuna finished the last round of action inside the top eight and is laying the foundations to possibly seal a first finish inside LL’s top seven in over a decade. To make that goal a reality, manager Jagoba Arrasate will be calling on his side to try and convert more of their draws into wins, as no team has drawn more LL games in 2023 (five).
📋 Key battle: Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby will hope to remember this game for the right reasons after scoring, picking up a yellow card and then a red in the last H2H meeting! He’s likely to come up against Osasuna forward Ante Budimir who has registered four goal contributions (G3, A1) across his last three LL appearances against Valencia.
⚡ Hot stat: Ahead of the round, only one LL side has conceded more set-piece goals than Valencia and Osasuna (seven).
Mallorca vs Real Sociedad - Match Preview
Sunday’s early La Liga (LL) clash sees Mallorca host Champions League-chasing Real Sociedad, who have been described as Mallorca’s ‘worst possible enemy’ due to their dreadful recent record against the Basque team. It’s been a rough time to be a Pirates fan recently, with coach Javier Aguirre aiming to avoid a third consecutive LL loss for the first time in his tenure after suffering defeats to relegation-threatened Espanyol (2-1) and Elche (1-0) which threaten to pull the club into some drop-zone drama.
Avoiding that unwanted record against a Real Sociedad side Mallorca have lost to in each of their seven contests since 2012 will be no mean feat however, particularly as they haven’t even managed to score against these opponents during that same time! It seems to start quickly could be the secret to setting that record straight, as the Pirates have not lost a LL home game after netting first since July 2020 (W12, D4).
Sociedad’s stock continues to rise amidst an impressive season that has seen them become an unlikely frontrunner to snatch a top-four finish. Their ascent perhaps shouldn’t surprise, with their prestigious academy producing the likes of Sociedad’s talented Mikel Oyarzabal, and their popularity displayed by a quarter of the Premier League’s current managers having worked in some capacity in the Gipuzkoa province.
A club that "belongs to everybody" according to the club directors is perhaps just going off the boil however, as a four-game winless run bookended by a 2-0 loss to Roma in the Europa League threatens to undo their endeavours (D2, L2). The Txuri-Urdin will be desperate to stop the rot here, and after losing 1-0 to Valencia in their last league away outing, they will now hope to avoid successive LL away losses for the first time since December 2021.
📋 Players to watch: In the absence of star-forward Vedat Muriqi, Mallorca may look towards midfielder Daniel Rodríguez who has three goal contributions (G2, A1) across his last three outings. Sociedad’s Mikel Merino often makes himself known in this fixture, securing three goal contributions (G2, A1) and two yellow cards across his last five H2H league outings.
⚡ Hot stat: Only two LL sides have won more games ‘to nil’ than Sociedad and Mallorca (both seven) ahead of this round.
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