Sergio searches for important win in 200th match
La Liga Santander
Friday February 5th, 2021
Estadio Mendizorrotza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Deportivo Alavés (18th, 19pts) vs Real Valladolid (16th, 20pts)
Real Valladolid travel to Mendizorrotza in search of a crucial win against Deportivo Alavés with just one point separating the sides.
With the visitors sitting in 16th place with 20 points, a loss in Sergio’s 200th match as a manager would see them leapfrogged by tonight’s opponents and pile further pressure on the beleaguered Catalan who watched as his side capitulated 3-1 at home to bottom club Huesca in their last outing.
There is little to choose from between these teams in what has been a difficult season for both clubs so far. They mirror each other in the league, with four wins apiece. In fact, they both sport a two-win, four-draw, five-loss record at home giving them an equal ten points out of 33. Away from their own stadiums, the tale is eerily similar with two wins obtained on the road and Pucela edging points achieved and goal difference by a single digit in each category.
It is almost impossible to split the two in head-to-head encounters either. The trend of both sides being equally matched continues with Real Valladolid earning 15 wins to Alavés’ 14 in their 35 matches all-time.
It is in the confines of Mendizorrotza that the hosts finally edge ahead; they have beaten tonight’s challengers on nine out of the 17 home clashes. Real Valladolid have won five and there have been three draws. Pucela have not won in Vitoria-Gasteiz since goals from Roger Marti and Jonathan Pereira saw them emerge victorious by a score of 2-0 on May 31st, 2015.
Since then, Real Valladolid have only managed to see off the Babazorros on one occasion in their subsequent seven meetings and that was courtesy of Joaquín’s 88th minute winner when the sides met at the José Zorrilla on Matchday 34 of the 2019/20 season. That victory all-but confirmed Sergio’s side as being safely in Primera for another season.
However, they have struggled in this campaign and have posted just four wins up to this point and have not won in league action in their last four outings (2 losses, 2 draws). Last week’s disaster against Huesca was a hammer blow and consigned Real Valladolid to their ninth loss, two more than at this stage last season. Despite this, they remain unbeaten in their last four matches away from home in the league and would only need to avoid defeat to equal the run of 5 matches unbeaten away from October 2018.
Absences have played a huge part in this inability to win, especially in the defensive ranks where injury has ravaged the players. Saidy Janko, Yawad El Yamiq, Joaquín, Javi Sánchez, Raúl Carnero and Kiko Olivas have all missed game time, with the latter still out from a late-season injury last year and Carnero set to miss the remainder of this campaign. The list of absentees is not as severe as in recent weeks, but Sergio will still be without the services of Sánchez, Olivas and striker Marcos André who will not return to action until early Spring.
Deportivo Alavés have also found life an uphill struggle. They occupy 18th place, just inside the relegation zone, and have posted one win in their last ten LaLiga outings and no side has scored fewer goals in that span than the team they call El Glorioso. To further add humiliation, they were unceremoniously dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Almería by a score of 5-0 and finished the match with ten men. It was a nightmare return for manager Abelardo Fernández, who was four days into his second spell as manager of the club. The ex-Barcelona and Alavés defender saw his side humiliated by the Segunda side and he has yet to post the first victory of his most recent tenure with the club, with defeats to Sevilla and Real Madrid at home followed by a goalless draw at Getafe. The 50-year-old is well thought of among the fans and won 28 of his 69 matches in charge between December 2017 and June 2019 before being replaced by Asier Garitano. Abelardo went on to lead Espanyol in the low reaches of Primera in his 17 matches at the helm, before he was dismissed with eight matches to play having only recorded five wins. Espanyol were relegated that season.
Alavés are not to be taken lightly though, having scored in their last four home matches in the league. Curiously though, they have also lost 5 out of the last 6 home matches in which they have found the back of the net. Midfielder Tomás Pina has five goals during his time with Alavés, two of which are against Real Valladolid and are, in fact, the last two he has scored. Equally as interesting is the fact that of his four goals in white and violet, Joaquín has also scored twice against Alavés. He hit the net in Matchday 33 of the 2018/19 season when the teams drew 2-2 at Mendizorrotza and also the scored the winner in that match last season at the José Zorrilla.
The men from Vitoria-Gasteiz got the upper-hand the last time they squared off when they prevailed 2-0 in Valladolid in Matchday 7 of this season. Nacho received a red card when he hauled down Lucas Pérez in the box (the first dismissal of the Sergio era) but, despite the striker missing the resulting spot-kick and having a goal disallowed by V.A.R., goals in the second period from Pina and Borja Sainz sent all three points north with the Alavés team bus.