Soccer Spain LaLiga Prediction
Valencia vs Rayo Vallecano - Match Preview
⚽ 3 April 2023 - 14:15 GMT +0
Pre-season expectations were that Valencia would be in contention to return to some form of European football, whilst Rayo Vallecano were amongst the six clubs most expected to be relegated heading into August. Instead, the two teams have found themselves in opposite circumstances, with Valencia beginning this round in 18th thanks, in part, to a 2-1 loss sustained away to their upcoming opponents last September.
New manager Rubén Baraja kickstarted Valencia’s desperate fight for survival by toppling two then-top half clubs (Sociedad and Osasuna) by 1-0 margins in his first two LL home assignments, helping to build some momentum ahead of a trio of LL games against relegation rivals to follow this match. Baraja was also buoyed by the return of three previously injured first-team players during the international break, whilst captain José Gayà was a welcome presence in their last home outing.
Heavily linked, Vallecano boss Andoni Iraola may now regret not moving to Leeds United mid-season, given his team’s dramatic tumble from fifth place after 20 rounds to sit five points off sixth-placed Villarreal during the international window. Vallecano suffered the ignominy of being the only club to not win a single LL game in the six rounds (D4, L2) before the break.
Their most recent 2-2 home draw with Girona was transcended by an embarrassing penalty blunder in which Óscar Trejo - whose first missed attempt was retaken due to encroachment - laid off a pass from the penalty spot for teammate Isi Palazón only to sky over the crossbar. They can ill afford such shenanigans again after failing to score in their last two LL away trips, which followed a streak of ten consecutive LL away games in which they found the net.
📋 Players to watch: Justin Kluivert has scored in three of Valencia’s last four LL home games in which they collected at least one point. The aforementioned Palazón did manage to score against Girona despite that miss, and he has also opened the scoring in two of Vallecano’s four away LL victories.
⚡ Hot stat: All but four of the last 17 LL matches involving either club produced more than 2.5 total goals.
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