Fussball Server previews Sunday’s La Liga clash between Valencia and Levante, including team news and predicted lineups.
Valencia take on Levante in a tasty local derby at the Mestalla on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 La Liga campaign.
Levante will be looking to pile the misery on their neighbours, who have been gutted this summer with the exits of a number of key men.
Valencia finished in the top half last season, three points off a place in the top six, but that was considered a big disappointment.
Los Che also reached the last-16 stage of the Champions League, where they were eliminated by Atalanta 8-4 on aggregate in March.
They have since said goodbye to the likes of Ferran Torres, Rodrigo Moreno, Francis Coquelin, Ezequiel Garay and Dani Parejo without replacing them, meaning that it will be even tougher to regain a European spot for next season.
Still, finishing in the top six will be the target for Javi Gracia, who was brought in during the close season to replace sacked head coach Albert Celades.
Valencia head into the new campaign with a bit of momentum on their side, having won three and drawn one of their four pre-season matches – one of those stalemates coming against Levante.
Los Che are also unbeaten in their previous six La Liga games against Levante and could achieve their longest unbeaten run against them in the competition by avoiding defeat here.
Levante will have something to say about that, of course, and they too have gone unbeaten during this shortened pre-season campaign.
Los Granotas beat Mallorca, Cartagena and Villarreal by the same 2-1 scoreline, either side of their draw against this weekend’s opponents and a 1-0 win against Castellon.
After a decent campaign last time out when finishing in a respectable 12th, Paco Lopez will perhaps be targeting a similar finish this time around.
Jorge de Frutos and Dani Gomez have been brought in during the summer, but Borja Mayoral has returned to Real Madrid following the end of his season-long loan spell.
History is not exactly on Levante’s side, though, as they have only won one of their eight La Liga opening games away from home – 3-0 versus Real Betis in August 2018.
Winning at the Mestalla, fans or no fans, is also a tough task – Valencia have lost only one of their last 20 home league matches since May 2019.
Valencia pre-season form: WWDW
Levante pre-season form: WDWWW
Jasper Cillessen, Kevin Gameiro and Toni Lato are all carrying injuries and are not expected to play any part on the opening weekend of the La Liga season.
Goncalo Guedes is also nursing a minor issue but is in contention to start on the left side of attack, with Maxi Gomez favourite to lead the line.
At the other end of the field, Eliaquim Mangala and Gabriel Paulista are expected to link up in the heart of defence.
As for Levante, Roger Marti – who has four goals in his last four games against Los Che – is definitely out so Pedro Leon should get the nod up top.
De Frutos is in line for a debut, meanwhile, but fellow newbie Gomez may have to wait for his first competitive run-out.
Ruben Vezo is another fitness doubt for the visitors, possibly meaning starts for Rober Pier and Oscar Duarte at centre-back.
Valencia possible starting lineup:
Domenech; Wass, Gabriel, Mangala, Gaya; Racic, Kondogbia; Vallejo, Lee, Guedes; Gomez
Levante possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Miramon, Pier, Duarte, Clerc; Frutos, Campana, Radoja, Bardhi; Morales, Leon
We say: Valencia 1-1 Levante
Valencia’s squad is depleted and it looks like being a tough task breaking back into the top six.
Local rivals Levante will be looking to take advantage of that, but Los Che are very tough to beat at home and we can see the points being shared in this Derby del Turia.