Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire shares his thoughts on his favourite fancies across the opening weekend from La Liga, with two selections standing out on Sunday.
Yellow Submarine To Start In Style
Villarreal have retained the squad that finished fifth in La Liga last season and added a sparkling of stand-out quality ahead of 2020/21. The Yellow Submarine – now under the guidance of Unai Emery – captured Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin from regional rivals Valencia, as well as picking up Japanese starlet Takefusa Kubo on-loan from Real Madrid.
The expectation is now on Villarreal to make a real challenge for the Champions League places this term and the Yellow Submarine should be able to start the new campaign in style when welcoming promoted newly-promoted Huesca.
Emery’s outfit can be backed with a -0.75 Asian Handicap start at 1.75, seeing us profit should the hosts take top honours.
Villarreal have been knocking at the door for a number of years; often elegant on the ball, full of pace and panache, the Yellow Submarine played with freedom and enterprise.
However, a lack of muscle in central areas and coordination from the dugout arguably proved the club’s undoing when looking to take the next step-up in Spain.
Emery may have endured two miserable spells at PSG and Arsenal, but returns to La Liga with his stock still high. The new boss undoubtedly enhances Villarreal, whilst the ambitious additions could prove to be the catalyst for a club attempting to break into the top-four positions, and possibly beyond.
Paco Alcacer and Gerard Moreno are expected to start up top as a partnership for Emery, who looks likely to set-up in an attack-minded 4-4-2 system for the Estadio de la Ceramica curtain-raiser on Sunday evening. Both players are capable of causing opposition defences numerous nightmares and Huesca, therefore, will be up against it on their return to La Liga.
The Aragaon outfit pulled off a smash-and-grab Segunda title success last term, pinching top spot on the final day of the campaign as Cadiz celebrated their own promotion. Inconsistency blighted large swathes of their season as Michel’s men relied upon their fortress home form, returning 11 defeats in 21 second-tier matches when on the road.
Huesca’s dismal away efforts were illustrated by losses to relegation strugglers Deportivo and Racing Santander – and if the league table only accounted for away results, the champions would have finished 21st.
Should Michel’s troops fail to turn the tide on their travels, starting on Sunday, it could be a miserable return to the Spanish top-flight.
Crisis Club Valencia Make Little Appeal
Even by Valencia’s chaotic standards, it’s been a tumultuous summer at Mestalla.
Controversial owner Peter Lim is trying to balance the books at the debt-ridden club but fire-sales at knockdown prices have ripped the spine out of the Los Che first XI.
Captain Dani Parejo and midfield shield Francis Coquelin were jettisoned to near neighbours Villarreal, defensive lynchpin Ezequiel Garay was allowed to leave for nothing, whilst Ferran Torres moved to Manchester City and Rodrigo to Leeds in deals that saw Valencia arguably earn half of what the duos expected market value was widely accepted to be.
Cristiano Piccini is the latest to leave but the club are also actively looking to sell the likes of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Denis Cheryshev and goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen before the transfer window closes in October. The latter is unavailable for Sunday’s season opener at home to local rivals Levante after injuring a calf on international duty.
Albert Celades was removed as head coach at the back end of 2019/20 with former Watford boss Javi Gracia now in charge. It’s far from a serene situation at Mestalla with institutional instability and negligent leadership essentially now asset-stripping, leaving very little meat on the bones.
Morale is at rock-bottom and there’s a feeling of apathy around the place.
Considering the situation at Valencia in, it’s worth keeping an adventurous Levante outfit onside for the derby. Los Granotas only finished four points behind the host’s last term and toppled both Barcelona and Real Madrid during the campaign. Roger Marti might be missing but the visitors are well capable of collecting at least a point in his absence.
- Villarreal -0.75 – 2 units @ 1.75
- Levante +0.50 – 2 units @ 1.80