Levante will welcome Villareal into their stadium as they look to get a positive first result on their return to the La Liga. On the other side, Malaga will play hosts to Eibar as both the teams will fight each other in a search for three points.
LEVANTE vs. VILLAREAL
Three-way: 1: Levante +229; X: +235 Draw; 2: Villareal +152
Spread +: Levante +135; Villareal -137
Total +2: Over -116; under +110
After getting relegated in the 2015-16 season, Levante decided to put all their resources into make a comeback to the La Liga. In the subsequent season, they didn’t just got promoted, but did it with some amazing performances on the way. They won the La Liga 2 title, as they finished 14 points clear of second placed Girona. Interestingly, they did not score a lot of goals, and were bettered in attack by Girona, as Levante scored 57 goals in 42 matches. However, it was Levante’s defensive resilience that took them to the top of the league. They conceded just 32 goals in the league campaign, which was the least in the division.
They have made quite a few signings in this transfer window as they look to get ready to ensure their survival in the league for the foreseeable future. They have bought Morierense striker Emmanuel Boateng for 2 million Euros, to add the goals for the team in the league. To boost the midfield, they have added defensive midfielder Cheick Doukoure from FC Metz for 1.6 million, while also bringing in playmaker Enis Bardhi from Ujpest FC for another 1.6 million. They also added Spanish forward Ivi from Sevilla Atl. for 1.2 million. These new signings have been brought into the team with a view that they will bring in the required goals, which was one of the aspects in which the team could do with some improvement.
The club had a decent preseason, as they played against various kinds of oppositions, starting from lower league ones to their current league rivals. They took part in 8 friendlies, out of which, they won 5, drew 1, and lost 2. In this duration, they scored a massive 18 goals, while conceding 8 goals. They have shown a habit of conceding at least one goal, as they have managed to keep only 3 clean sheets during this run of games.
The manager will be happy that they do not have many injury concerns in the team. However, they will still be missing striker Roger Marti, who will be out until January due to a Ruptured Cruciate ligament.
The Yellow submarines come into the new La Liga season after impressing everyone in the league last year. They played with a real defensive solidity last season, as they secured the 5th position and hence got an automatic Europa league spot for this season. They weren’t very effective in going forward, as one can make out with their stats of 56 goals scored in 38 matches in the La Liga. However, it was their defense which set the tone for a strong season. The Yellow submarines conceded just 33 goals in the entire league campaign. Only third placed Atletico Madrid had a better defensive record in the league.
Villareal has added new faces to the squad, with the aim of avoiding a drop in the performance levels of the team in the new campaign. They have added highly rated Turkish forward Enes Unal from Manchester City for a reported sum of 14 million Euros. They have spent another 14 million in bringing in the Sporting center back Ruben Semedo, who will be expected to replace the influential Musachhio who has gone to AC Milan. They have spent another 12 million on Malaga youngster Pablo Fornals to boost their midfield. In addition to these signings, they have added Carlos Bacca from Milan on a season-long loan deal, while they have made Porto Keeper Andres Fernandez’s loan deal permanent for 2 million Euros.
Villareal has had a pretty topsy-turvy preseason preparation in the past two months. They took part in 6 friendly matches, out of which, they won three, and lost three, including a loss against league rivals Malaga. During these six games, they scored 8 goals and conceded 7. These stats indicate that their usually strong defense has seemingly lost its cohesion.
The fans are aware that the team won’t be having a number of first team players for the league opener. Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo is with an ACL tear, and won’t be able to recover in time for this match. Denis Cheryshev is also out with muscular problems since February and doesn’t look anywhere near a first team return. Joining them on the sidelines is last year’s star performer Bruno Soriano, who metronomic ability to control the midfield will be missed as he is out with a leg injury suffered in the preseason.
LEVANTE vs. VILLAREAL- Match Prediction:
Levante is trying their level best, as one can see from their transfer activity and preseason preparations, to avoid another instant drop to the second division. However, in Villareal, they have a very able opponent, that has made some really good signings and has a very good bunch of players already. Even though Levante will be having the home ground advantage, I don’t think it will be enough to prevent Villareal from taking home three points with them. Therefore, my prediction will be an away win in this match.
MY PICK: VILLAREAL to win (+152)
MALAGA vs. EIBAR
Three-way: 1: Malaga +135; X: +241 Draw; 2: Eibar +270
Spread -0.5: Malaga +125; Eibar -135
Total +2.5: Over +127; Under -132
Malaga had a decent mid-table finish last year in the La Liga, although there was a feeling among the fans that the club could have finished a couple of positions higher, had the team been more consistent in the league. They finished 11th, just 1 point more than 13th placed Valencia. In the entire league season, they scored just 49 goals, which show the lack of quality players in their attack barring one or two. Moreover, in defense, they appeared disjointed most of the times as they conceded a lot of silly goals. They were breached 55 times in the La Liga last season. New coach Michel, who will be entering his first full season with the club, will be hoping that his team avoids another season with such a defense and attack.
Most of their transfer activity in the current transfer window has been related to selling key players so far. They have sold Camacho, Ramirez and Pablo Fornals for a combined 32 million Euros. In terms of new signings, they have signed young midfielder Emanuel Cecchini from Banfield for 4 million Euros, while also bringing defender Diego Gonzalez and Turkish keeper Cenk Gonen on another combined 800k euro. They have also made a couple of Spanish signings in midfielder Adrian Gonzalez and defender Juankar, with both of them coming on free transfers.
The club had a very poor preseason campaign, as they won only one game in all the friendly matches they played. They played in 8 matches, out of which, only Villareal was defeated by Malaga. During this time, they scored just 4 goals and conceded a disappointing 12 goals, which give a clear indication that the team has a lot of weak points, which need to be addressed before the season or they will find themselves battling relegation.
They will be short on full backs for the opening matches, as left back Federico Ricca is out with a shoulder injury, while Right back Miguel Torres will not be in contention due to an ankle injury suffered earlier this month.
After starting last season as one of the favorites to get relegated from the La Liga, Eibar did well to stay up, and even achieve a decent mid-table finish in the process. They managed to grab the 10th position in the La Liga, just 2 points below Espanyol in 8th. Interestingly, Eibar didn’t have the best of attacks or the sturdiest of defenses, but somehow, they still managed to climb up the ladder and finish in the middle. They scored 56 goals in 38 league matches while conceding 51. These numbers aren’t horrible by any means, but can surely be worked upon to achieve even better results.
They have recruited seemingly well in the transfer window, with more than a week still to go. They have added Sporting defender Paulo Oliviera for 3.5 million while spending 1 million each on Alcorcon keeper Dmitrovic and Espanyol midfielder Joan Jordan. They spent another 1 million to bring in Valencia keeper Yoel Rodriguez and Alcorcon winger Ivan Alejo. Moreover, they have made some good free signings. They have brought in Malaga forward Charles and Real Sociedad winger Pablo Hervias to bring in flair and goals to the team.
In terms of preseason preparation, Eibar had a decent preseason, although they were pretty inconsistent in getting the results. They played ten friendly matches, out of which, they won 6, and lost 4. During this stretch of games, they scored an impressive 19 goals, while conceding 11. These numbers show that Eibar has the quality in their team to grab results, even though they are unlikely to have thumping wins as the season progresses.
The injury list in the squad is a pretty long one, which will give the manager a lot to think about when it comes to team selection. Keeper Rodriguez is out until December with a ruptured ACL, while right back Arbilla will miss the game with an Achilles Tendon Problem. Fran Rico and Pedro Leon, both of them will be out with Knee injuries, while the squad might not have Sergi Enrich, David Junca and Forward Nano, who are all suffering from muscular problems, and are a doubt for the match. Midfielder Escalante will be out due to suspension carrying on from last season.
MALAGA vs. EIBAR- Match Prediction:
This match will be a worthy opener for the fans of both the teams, as both the clubs would fancy their chances of getting all the three points. Malaga has had a very poor preseason, but they have a good squad that is more than capable of picking itself up and getting a good season, and moreover, they also have the home advantage.
Eibar is a decent side, but with a lot of key men missing, they will struggle to impose themselves on Malaga. Therefore, my prediction will be a close match, with a home win being the final result.
MY PICK: MALAGA to win (+135)
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