Perez purchase can help Valencia to stop rot in Real Mestalla matches
Real Madrid have won at Valencia’s Mestalla ground in La Liga action for five straight years.
As Los Blancos lead the Spanish top flight with a game in hand and are on a record run of 22 successive victories as well, Coral make them strong odds-on 4/7 favourites to take three points in their first competitive outing since the winter break.
It seems divinely named Los Che coach Nuno Espirito Santo has a plan to try and turn the tide of recent history in this fixture, however. Backed by Singapore businessman Peter Lim’s billions, the Bats have splashed a reported €25m on midfielder Enzo Perez, who played for Argentina in the World Cup final last simmer.
Valencia, who trail the visitors by eight points in the table, are 4/1 outsiders to slay Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who were crowned the best club on the planet before Christmas. A draw, meanwhile, is a tasty 10/3.
Bought from Benfica across Iberia, the Perez purchase continues a rich recent tradition of Los Che having Argentina internationals on display in their engine room.
While Perez, 9/2 for a debut goal anytime against Real, may not be a number 10 like Pablo Aimar or a playmaker in the Ever Banega mould, his qualities as an all-action operator should see him slot into Valencia’s spine ahead of compatriot Nicolas Otamendi nicely.
The role envisaged for Perez here will be something similar to how Jorge Jesus used him at the Stadium of Light (Lisbon not Sunderland!). Perez has to help out a genuine holding player alongside him in stopping the supply to Madrid’s magnificent and expensively assembled Galacticos, but also break forward and start counter-attacks when the visitors commit bodies.
If Valencia need any more reason to stop the ball getting to Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, then they should read these scary stats.
Wales winger and most expensive player of all-time Bale netted in four successive matches across all competitions before the winter break. He is a 6/5 anytime chance to net for a fifth game running, and break his duck against Los Che at the third attempt.
Portugal icon Ronaldo, meanwhile, has five in his last two La Liga outings, and four in the previous three Bats battles, so is odds-on at 6/10 in the same market and better value at 14/5 to score first or last.
Signing and starting Perez is likely to give Bernabeu academy product and Valencia captain Daniel Parejo license to get further forward. The former QPR player has a strike in Los Che colours against his old club on his CV from last May, and is 5/1 to net here.
Perez’s compatriot Pablo Piatti has also scored when previously paired with Real, and the winger, who got a goal in the last Valencia home game as well, is 7/2 to be on target anytime again.
Los Che leading marksman Paco Alcacer, meanwhile, has three in his last two appearances, netting first in both, so punters could take the 17/2 on offer for him to grab the opener instead of shorter anytime odds of 12/5.
As Valencia’s clean sheet record is poor, and the recent history in this fixture points to goals galore, take a tasty 3/1 price on the total exceeding 4.5.