Preview: Levante away
LA LIGA SANTANDER WEEK 3 PREVIEW
LEVANTE vs REAL VALLADOLID
CIUTAT DE VALÈNCIA, VALENCIA, SPAIN
After picking up a late point away to Real Madrid on Saturday, Real Valladolid gained further momentum in their surprisingly positive start to the season. The 1-1 draw means that Pucela are unbeaten in their first two league fixtures heading into this encounter with Levante in Valencia.
Last week, Sergi Guardiola grabbed his second goal of the season to stun the Madrid giants in the 88th minute. This almost mirrored the good fortune they found in Seville in the opening league match when it was Óscar Plano who scored in the 89th minute to earn their second consecutive away visit to Real Betis. Guardiola had earlier put the visitors ahead before Loren’s equaliser. Confidence is understandably high in Sergio González’s squad, but they face a tricky test at a stadium they have not won in for 12 years.
Levante beat Real Valladolid 2-0 in January, the last times these squads faced off against each other. A goal from Coke shortly before half-time was added to by former Real Valladolid player Roger deep into injury time. Levante have won three out of the last five meetings between these sides, which have taken place over two divisions. Real Valladolid have managed just the one win in that span, a 2-1 victory at home in September 2018. Enes Ünal cancelled out Sergio Postigo’s opener and the victory was capped six minutes later by left-back Nacho’s stunning volley from the edge of the box when he crashed home Míchel’s corner for what was arguably their best goal of the season.
Prior to this, however, Pucela have struggled against the Valencian side. One of the main reasons behind this has been the form of striker Roger, who spent two loan period at Real Valladolid and is fondly remembered by the blanquivioleta faithful. He has four goals against his old side in as many matches. In fact, his value to Levante is so much that Paco López’s side have only lost four out of sixteen competitive matches where Roger has found the score sheet and he will look to add to his tally tonight. The front man has started the season well, making two substitute appearances and scoring twice in the latter. In addition to this dangerman, Real Valladolid should be cautious around Sergio Postigo who has two goals in recent matches against them.
Lopez’s Granotas began the La Liga campaign with a disappointing 1-0 away loss at Alavés. However, they returned to winning ways on Friday when they overcame losing a third-minute goal at home to Villarreal thanks to a penalty double from Roger, his first coming just five minutes after replacing Sergio Leon for the second match in a row. This was followed up, also five minutes later, with another successful spot kick.
The home side will be missing Coke who is struggling with a hip injury after playing the full 90 minutes in last week’s win, and Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Doukouré who is a long-term absentee after a cruciate ligament injury in February.
Sergio’s men are without captain Javi Moyano, who sustained a calf-injury in the second half of the draw in Madrid and the pairing of Rubén Alcaraz and Sandro who limped off against Real Betis in Week 1 are still unable to return. Pablo Hervías is yet to feature this season with physical discomfort and striker Stiven Plaza continues to rehab from a knee-injury and scored in a B-team match last week.