Deportivo La Coruna v Valencia, La Liga, December 20, 2009
Punching above their weight this season, Deportivo continue to occupy a lofty sixth position in the Spanish top flight as the year draws to a close, but their efforts to really push on and prove themselves to be a member of the elite faltering last time out in Almeria, where the Turcos could only earn a 1-1 draw against their struggling hosts.
The Galaciansâ€™ performance was not up to par with their form at the beginning of November, which had seen them chalk up three wins and a draw in four games. The draw in Almeria coupled with the 3-1 loss against Barcelona the week previous, leaving coach Miguel Angel Lotina looking for an upturn the end this disappointing sequence of results.
Depor’s poor run has coincided with a host of injury problems. The hosts are hoping that experienced defender and captain Manuel Pablo is fit to play, however Brayan Angulo, Riki and Lassad Nouioui are definitely absent.
Similarly flat are Valencia.
Hopes were high last weekend that Los Che could take advantage of a Real Madrid side without the services of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. Yet things didn’t go to plan, as Unai Emeryâ€™s outfit saw their hopes dashed in a narrow 3-2 defeat which left Valencia struggling to prove that this year’s title will be anything more than a two-horse Real-Barca race.
Los Che did though manage to pick themselves up during the week, as the Spainards shrugged off a missed penalty from David Villa to defeat Genoa 2-1 and book their place in the last 32 of the Europa League as group winners.
David Silva, Vicente and Jeremy Mathieu missed the midweek trip to Italy and must be expected to be absent once more this weekend in the league, while David Navarro is banned.
On the plus side, Valencia’s attacking arsenal of serial-goalscorer David Villa and Juan Mata appears to have received a pick-me-up in recent weeks as young Argentinean Ever Banega has begun to star in the centre of the pitch. Flanked by the likes of David Albeda and Joaquin, Valencia has an offensive line which will trouble the best in the Primera Liga.
101predicts: Deportivo La Coruna 2 – Valencia 3 (31/1)