With tough matches against Atletico & Barcelona coming up, Valencia can’t afford any screw-ups against much-improved Getafe

Valencia v Getafe, La Liga, February 22, 2010

Valencia 5/8; Draw 16/5; Getafe 11/2

For the second week running La Liga witnesses the rare sight of a Monday night fixture, as the Spanish continue to try and extend the commercial nature of their league by opening up a new weekly slot for fixtures. Last weekend’s Tenerife-Mallorca game hardly set this new experiment on Monday night football alight, but the meeting of Valencia and Getafe offers a much more interesting match-up, particularly as the hosts are looking to steady a wobble before it becomes something more serious.

Sitting third in the league and four points in front of Sevilla, Valencia are on course for a Champions League berth at the end of the season. (Valencia are 30/100 to finish in the top three.) And they have reasserted their position amongst the elite of Spain by ensuring the Mestalla remains a fortress this season, with Los Che having lost just once at home in the league in 16 matches – Real Madrid being the sole victors.

Yet, Valencia’s recent form is slightly hit-and-miss. Coach Unai Emery has seen his side win just once of their last five matches, which has included disappointing draws at bottom-half of the table sides Tenerife and Sporting Gijon, while they lost to 2-1 rivals Sevilla in the league as well as losing 1-nil away at Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday night.

With tough matches away at Atletico Madrid and Barcelona coming up in two of their next three games, a home win against eighth-placed Getafe is imperative if Los Che want to avoid a mid-season blip at just the wrong time.

David Navarro will once again be missing for Valencia after the defender recovers from a muscle tear, however that should be hosts only major injury doubt. (Valencia are 7/5 to keep a clean sheet, 5/8 against.)

On the plus side, Valencia will once again field their dynamic strike-force of David Villa (15 goals in 21 games) and Juan Mata (6 goals in 21 games), while support for the front-two will be readily available from wingers David Silva and Joaquin. (Valencia are 14/5 to win both halves.)

Arguably the star of the show for Valencia this season though has been Argentine midfielder Ever Banega. 21-year-old Banega was on the verge of a slinking out the club season on a whimper after his mega-money move from Atletico Madrid failed to deliver immediate performances, but this season the holding midfielder has been a player transformed. Aside from performing his basic enforcer duties in front of the Valencia defence, Banega has shown he has far more to his game than just being a destroyer, chipping in with two goals and seven assists already this term.

Turning to Getafe, unlike last season where they stayed up by the skin of their teeth, El Geta are enjoying a very different campaign this time around. Coach Michel has managed to form a team that rarely do things by halves, having registered just two draws all season while they’ve won ten and lost ten. Away from home, though, Getafe appear a slightly softer touch, having lost eight of their eleven road trips this term.

The star of the show for Getafe has been striker Roberto Soldado. The 24-year-old forward has been utterly prolific for his side this season, finding the net on twelve occasions already and firmly establishing himself as one of their stars after a promising debut season with the capital club last term.

Apart from Soldado, Ghanaian midfielder Derek Boateng has been one of the main reasons for Getafe’s great season so far. Scurrying around in front of his defence (Getafe are 11/2 to keep a clean sheet), Boateng has been in excellent form throughout the season winning countless tackles and interceptions in the middle of the park. And with Boateng doing much of the dirty work in midfield, 33-year-old Javier Casquero has been afforded slightly more creative freedom allowing him to score four and claim two assists so far this season, while right-winger Pedro Leon has been in superb form also with three goals and five assist to his name.

With five away defeats in their last six league away matches, the omens don’t offer too much encouragement for Getafe. However in each of those five defeats Getafe have only been beaten by one goal, and with Valencia slightly off the pace at present, os Che will have a difficult night in stall in they want to claim maximum points.

101gg predicts: Valencia 2 – Getafe 1 (15/2)

Valencia 5/8; Draw 16/5; Getafe 11/2

Full match odds here.