In a repeat of the recent Copa del Rey final, Valencia and Real Betis renew hostilities in Tuesday’s La Liga battle at the Mestalla.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side came out on top on penalties in the showpiece event with Los Che, who will be out for revenge in front of their own fans in midweek.
Valencia’s stark fall from grace very nearly had a silver lining in the final of the 2021-22 Copa del Rey, but spot kicks bedevilled them against Betis two weeks ago, and their domestic fortunes have not improved since then.
After being held to a 1-1 draw by Levante just after finishing as runners-up in the cup, Valencia travelled to Athletic Bilbao and managed to glean a point in a goalless stalemate, despite losing Hugo Guillamon to a late red card and Gabriel Paulista to a worrying injury.
Now without a win in seven matches in all competitions, Jose Bordalas’s side are still clinging onto their top-half spot as they lie 10th in the standings, with Rayo Vallecano failing to knock them down to 11th after being held by Getafe on Sunday afternoon.
Not since March 19 have Los Che managed to come out on top in a La Liga fixture, and clashes with Espanyol and Celta Vigo are far from simple to navigate either for a Valencia side who seldom come out on top on their own turf.
Indeed, Bordalas’s side have only posted a meagre three wins from their last 15 La Liga fixtures at the Mestalla – only six sides in the division have performed worse than them at home this term – and Betis have recent experience when it comes to getting the better of Los Che.
Enjoying a guard of honour from Barcelona on Saturday after coming out on top in the Copa del Rey final, Real Betis’ could not reignite their top-four charge against the Blaugrana, who left it very late indeed to seal all three points against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Ansu Fati’s scuffed finish broke the deadlock before the ball cannoned off Marc Bartra’s shoulder into the back of the net, but Betis were to be denied a potentially priceless point in their Champions League charge as Jordi Alba volleyed home with the last kick of the game.
While their cup success means that Betis are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League irrespective of their league position, a four-game winless run in the top flight has dealt a major blow to their hopes of dining at Europe’s top table as they sit fifth in the standings.
Furthermore, Atletico Madrid moved six points clear of Pellegrini’s side after prevailing against capital rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, and a tally of one goal from their last four La Liga matches does not exactly inspire confidence within the Verdiblancos ranks.
Betis do at least bring a four-game unbeaten away run with them into Tuesday’s game – three of which have ended goalless – and they put Valencia to the sword in a 4-1 thrashing back in October.
Valencia La Liga form:
Valencia form (all competitions):
Real Betis La Liga form:
Real Betis form (all competitions):
We say: Valencia 0-1 Real Betis
All of a sudden, Valencia boss Bordalas must work his way around a defensive crisis, and Real Betis ought to feel confident about rediscovering some goalscoring form against a depleted Che backline.
Valencia gave Betis a good run for their money in the Copa del Rey final, but Pellegrini’s side were arguably unfortunate not to take any points off Barcelona and can scrape a vital win to extinguish the hosts’ hopes of a swift revenge.