This is the highlight of the opening round of fixtures in La Liga and cynics weren’t exactly stunned when these sides were paired together on match-day one. League bosses were keen for a ‘glamour fixture’ on the opening weekend but unwilling to pit any of the big three against each other from the off.
Traditionally these two teams have battled for that third place in Spanish football’s pecking order whilst occasionally shaking up Barcelona and Real Madrid’s domination of La Liga. Valencia did that in the 2000’s winning the title twice under Rafa Benitez while Atleti have been there or thereabouts ever since Diego Simeone starting working his magic at the Vicente Calderon almost seven years ago.
For most of that period he has been willing to play the underdog role and claim his side weren’t targeting league titles but it’s a little harder to do this time around on the back of a summer where their net spend has been far greater than that of Real or Barca and particularly following on from an excellent 4-2 win over Los Blancos in the UEFA Super Cup. That has only raised expectation levels heading into the new season and Atleti have to be viewed as genuine title contenders.
Valencia aren’t quite in that bracket yet but they stand a good chance of being the best of the rest again. They have one of the best coaches in La Liga in the shape of Marcelino and they were very worthy of their 4th place finish last term. They’ve done some pretty good business this summer by snapping up Geoffrey Kondogbia on a permanent deal after he excelled on loan at the Mestalla last season. They are still hoping to conclude a similar deal for Goncalo Guedes and that would push their spending well past €100 million with the likes of Kevin Gameiro and Michy Batshuayi having already joined to bolster their attacking options.
Therefore both teams have reason to be optimistic heading into the new season and it promises to be a really competitive game in front of passionate crowd at the Mestalla. Both sides should be able to field their strongest elevens or very close to it so this is a certainly game that is worth tuning in for.
The game will be live for free on Eleven Sports Facebook page (UK).
Valencia vs Atletico Madrid Predictions
Score Prediction: 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Betting Tips: Atletico Madrid 0.0 Asian Handicap
The bookies are struggling to call this one but there looks to be more value in backing Atleti to come out on top with the insurance of a refund if the game ends level. They looked sharp last Wednesday’s in Estonia and the fact they excelled in Extra Time suggests they have come back fighting fit despite short pre-seasons in some cases due to the World Cup. They have an excellent recent record against Valencia, who didn’t beat any of the ‘big three’ last term, so there could be sense in backing the visitors to get the job done here and make another major early season statement.
- Valencia’s matches against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico last season saw them play 8, draw 3 and lose 5.
- They won 68% of their home games last term.
- They won 3, drew 2 and lost 1 in pre-season.
- Atletico kept a clean sheet in 61% of their league games last season.
- They conceded just 0.58 goals per game, the best record in La Liga.
Head to Head
Atleti have won 5 of the last 6 meetings. They’ve not conceded in any of their last 4 games against Valencia.
Valencia Team News:
Valencia are likely to go 4-4-2 with Santi Mina and Rodrigo up front as Gameiro and Batshuayi have only had limited pre-seasons. They are hoping to conclude a deal with Goncalo Guedes but new signing Daniel Wass is likely to start on the left flank here.
Atletico Madrid Team News:
Atleti should hand league debuts to Thomas Lemar and Rodri. Lucas Hernandez is suspended so Filipe Luis should start at left-back.
Read more – Can Atletico Madrid win La Liga?