On Sunday night the most interesting match of this round will start between 4th and 5th place Valencia and Espanyol. Whoever wins this match it will be a big step forward, especially since its the first match in the new year and it decides the 4th place team.
The team is suffering with a lot of injuries right now, especially in midfield and Emery will need to be very careful who he chooses. Cezar Sahncez, Miguel Angel Moya, Albelda, Tino Costa. Dominguez and Ever Banega are all suffering from injuries.
Banega has been training with the team, but he still feels some pain in his muscles and even Topal has not been fully healed and has yet to play since returning from injury.
To make matters worse Navarro and Soldado will also miss the match due to suspension and this leaves Valencia with only 1 striker. This is why Emery has called in few youngsters to the squad that may be in the official team to face Espanyol.
Valencia CF squad:
Goalkeepers: Vicente Guaita, Saúl Figueroa
Defenders: Miguel Brito, Bruno Saltor, Ricardo Costa, Marius Stankevičius, Ángel Dealbert, Jérémy Mathieu, Jordi Alba
Midfielders: Mehmet Topal, Hedwiges Maduro, Éver Banega, Joaquín Sánchez, Pablo Hernández, Sofiane Feghouli, Juan Mata, Vicente Rodríguez
Strikers: Aritz Aduriz, Isco Alarcón, Paco Alcácer
Espanyol on the other side are coming to this match in a worse shape than Valencia, after suffering 3 defeats in a row in all competitions. They lost 5-1 to Barcelona and lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish cup.
Before their bad roll Espanyol was on a high roll in the Spanish league and were 4th on the table and playing some great football, but luckily for Valencia their good roll stopped and are coming to this match after 3 demoralizing defeats.
Valencia has even more luck as Espanyol's top defender Victor Ruíz, who picked up a red card in a 1-0 loss against Atlético in the Copa del Rey will not be featured for this match.
RCD Espanyol squad:
Goalkeepers: Carlos Kameni, Cristian Álvarez
Defenders: Javi Chica, Dídac Vilà, Juan Forlín, Jordi Amat, Raúl Rodríguez, Víctor Álvarez
Midfielders: Javi Márquez, Raúl Baena, Joan Verdú, Aldo Duscher, Jesús Datolo
Strikers: Pablo Osvaldo, José Callejón, Luis García, Sergio García, Iván Alonso, Álvaro Vázquez
Valencia CF Technical:
Line up: Guaita; Miguel, Dealbert, R. Costa, Alba; Joaquin, Maduro, Banega, Mata, Isco; Aduriz.
Tactics: Medium frequency crosses from the wings, positional changes from the 3 attacking midfielders, high defensive line, high opposing field pressure, doubling down in the penalty area.
Valencia will surely play mostly standard in this match as it has been all season so far, but I suspect Isco will be included in the squad due to Soldado being suspended and will start just behind Aduriz. He and Mata will double down in the Espanyol penalty area on all occasions they can and effectively creating 3 strikers in the penalty area. Joaquin, Mata and Isco are likely to change positions from the left wing, center to right wing and often times Isco helping out in the wings.
Valencia CF 2-0 Espanyol
Valencia are coming to this match as the better side and from a mini series of good results, while Espanyol are coming demoralized ti this match after a streak of 3 defeats. If the pitch is decent enough to play on it I can't see Valencia not taking this match, although Espanyol will surely prove to be a tough opposition.