Tuesday, May 10, 2011

RCD Espanyol vs Valencia CF - Match Preview

Another match, another final, another crucial game and all for that still elusive 3rd position. With Valencia CF failing to secure 3rd place earlier, we must now go to Barcelona to face Espanyol and win in order to theoretically secure 3rd place, even though mathematically we'll probably be fighting for until the last matchday.

RCD Espanyol is a team that has been on the decline for much of the second half of the season. Even though it entered the new year as a top four contender and competitor to Valencia CF as it all too often the case in Spain this team was over-performing and slowly but surely has been playing worse and worse.

Espanyol are currently sitting in 8th place with 48 points, just recently outpaced by Atletico Madrid and Sevilla and it looks like this is going to be their final position with Sporting Gijon down with 43 points and Atletico Madrid and Sevilla clearly the better team at least in the second half of the season.

Espanyol is one of those team that is great at nothing and bad at nothing, they play good football and are decent defensively and pretty good offensively, although great at nothing. The biggest threat is probably going to come from Pablo Daniel Osvaldo who is the top scorer with 11 goals.

Espanyol last seven matches have been terrible with only one win against Bilbao and their latest result is a loss to Barcelona which isn't that bad in itself, but combined with the fact that they only won once in the last 7 matches is a problem.

RCD Espanyol squad:
Goalkeepers: Kameni, Cristian Álvarez.
Defense: Amat, Canal, Galán, Chica, Raúl Rodríguez, Víctor Álvarez.
Midfield: Javi Máquez,Verdú, Javi López, Rui Fonte, Isaías.
Attack: Callejón, Luis García, Osvaldo, Álvaro, Iván Alonso, Thievy.

Valencia CF on the other hand are coming off from a convincing 3-0 win against Real Sociedad and is still in 3rd position, with now 5 points clear from Villarreal. So a win tomorrow against Espanyol is a must if Valencia CF is to secure automatic Champions League qualification. Everything else except a win would put our 3rd place in danger from Villarreal who actually have 2 easier fixtures before the end of the season.

Latest news in the Valencia camp is that Unai Emery stopped a potential fight between Cezar, Alba and Vicente after they had an argument in training, which I already write about. Other bad news is that Vicente Guaita has a flu and won't be available for selection, while Pablo Hernandez has complained to pains and it seems like he may have some sort of muscle rupture that will have him miss the rest of the season.

Isco has been included in the squad in the absence of Pablo and if the results goes Valencia's way he may get some minutes of playing time.

Valencia CF squad:
Goalkeepers: César, Moyá.
Defence: Miguel, Bruno, Navarro, Stankevicius, Dealbert, Alba, Mathieu.
Midfield: Albelda, Topal, Éver, Joaquín, Isco, Mata.
Attack: Jonas, Aduriz, Soldado.

Technical details:
Formation: 4-4-2
Line-up: Cezar; Miguel, Stankevicious, Dealbert, Mathieu; Joaquin; Banega, Topal, Mata; Jonas, Soldado.
Tactical: medium defensive line, mid field opposing team pressure, wing and central attacking play, mostly short passing with high frequency crosses from the wings.

Result prediction:
RCD Espanyol 1-2 Valencia CF
Espanyol has had 6 bad matches in their last 7, but watching them against Barcelona last week they didn't play bad, they were pretty organized and played well. Also how much more can they really looose? Valencia should play good football as well and I think the players are fairly motivated to play for the win. I think Valencia will just barely edge out Espanyol.