Valencia vs Athletic Bilbao: Celades’ Last Shots to Save Los Ches
La Liga fans barely remembered Albert Celades back in late 90s till early 2000s. The former Barcelona youngster was one of the few who also played for Real Madrid. Yet, since he was on the bench longer than on the pitch. Last year, his name revived as his success in leading Spain U-21 winning EURO U-21 last year. Such brought him to be the successor of Marcelino Garcia Torral in Mestalla. Unfortuntely, things have not been doing well in Valencia. They are stuck on the midtable. In the next outing this midweek against Athletic Bilbao, Los Ches have to begin to win again so that they can qualify at the Europa League next season. However, it is not going to be easy as their opponent is also targetting the same. This match will be the first of the last six ones Celades has to win to bring his team into the continental competition. Otherwise, this season is considered as a failure and he will be no longer leading Dani Parejo and Co.
Los Ches have lost twice in a row. Last week, they suffered 2-0 defeat while visiting Villareal. The former Valencia man, Paco Alcacer and Gerardo Moreno found the back of the net while they themselves could not respond a single goal at all. It has been their third defeats since the restart.
Their counterpart, Athletic Bilbao, have better form lately. They have only lost once in the last five matches. Last week, Raul Garcia and Co smashed Mallorca 3-1. Raul Garcia himself gave his team an early lead by his penalty followed by Oihan Sancet’s long range strike. Ante Budimir managed to score a lifeline by his penalty before Asier Villalibre bagged a late goal to seal three points at home.
Missing players and probable lineups
Albert Celadess 4-4-2 formation seems to be easily anticipated lately by the opponents. Therefore, he needs to consider modifying it to 5-3-2 perhaps with more defensive and relying less on the crossings from both flanks. Rodrigo Moreno and the Russian international Denis Cheryshev are the best option upfront regarding the unimpressive form of Maxi Gomez lately. In the midfield, Dani Parejo, Daniel Wass and Francis Coquelin will be functioning as the first layer of the defence as well as building up for the counter attack. Unfortunately, Ezequiel Garay and Mukhtar Diakhaby will be sidelined due to their injuries.
Valencia: Jaume Domenech; Gabriel Paulista, Jaume Costa, Jose Gaya, Cristiano Piccini, Alessandro Florenzi ; Dani Parejo, Daniel Wass, Francis Ciquelin ; Rodrigo Moreno, Denis Cheryshev.
Meanwhile, Gaizka Garitano is confident with his favourite 4-2-3-1. Asier Villalibre seems to deserve a chance for the starting IX than Inaki Williams considering both strikers’ form after the restart. The latter has scored none but the former has netted twice in the past five games.
Athletic Bilbao: Unai Simon; Inigo Martinez, Yeray Alvarez, Yuri, Ander Capa ; Dani Garcia, Unai Lopez; Iker Muniain, Raul Garcia, Oihan Sanchet ; Asier Villalibre.
In the head-to-head meetings, Valencia have better records in the last eight encounters with five wins and two draws, whereas Bilbao only managed to win once. However, considering the host’s negative trend lately, the visitor might benefit from it and leapfrog Celades’ men in the standings.
The indefinite delay of Copa Del Rey final this year, which Athletic Bilbao hopes for a ticket of European place, has led Garitanos men to seek for another way to the continental competition. Finishing on the top six is one option they can achieve. With only six games left, a win here is a must, not just for them but also for the home side, whose campaign is in danger after the series of negative results. If Celades does not attempt to make changes in his team, Bilbao is likely to pick up three points in Mestalla.
Where to watch
International TV channels:
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