It was only up until the last three or four weeks of the Segunda campaign, that Gijon dropped out of the automatic promotion race, though they come into this fixture in decidedly poor form. Rubén Baraja’s men have lost four of their last five. Such form is not exactly what is required ahead of a high-pressure two-legged tie, although it is fair to say that Gijon weren’t always at full strength during the final weeks, while their place in the play-offs was guaranteed for some time.
On the other hand, Valladolid required a final fixture win over Osasuna to grace the play-offs with their presence. In terms of form, Pucela come into this first leg in better shape than their visitors. The hosts won last time out, beating a more than useful side by two goals to nil, while they’ve now won four of their last five.
In all honesty, as is often the case with play-off fixtures, this is anything but easy to call. From a defensive point of view, Gijon have been the better team this season, though it is Valladolid who’ve shown that bit more offensively, especially on their own patch. At the prices, neither team makes too much appeal, but ‘Both Teams to Score’ certainly does.
In terms of scoring goals, Valladolid have been very hard to knock this season, especially when plying their trade in front of their own fans. With 43 goals to their name at Estadio José Zorrilla, Thursday’s hosts finished the regular season as the top-scorers in the home league table. In addition, not only did the hosts score goals overall, but they also made light work of notching against the better teams. Sergio González’s men scored in in four of their five home matches against the other five teams who finished in the top six, while they scored an impressive total of nine goals in such matches.
However, for all they are an offensively astute unit, even against the best teams at this level, Valladolid are no strangers to conceding goals. Thursday’s hosts conceded more goals at home than any other team in the top six during the regular season, while they kept zero clean sheets against top-six teams at Estadio José Zorrilla. They’ll show no fear on Thursday and will indeed cause Gijon problems, though it would be no surprise if their open style once again saw them concede.
Given the defensive record of the hosts, especially in matches of this nature, Gijon should travel west feeling upbeat about their attacking chances. As the leagues’ fourth highest scorers prior to the play-offs, the visitors are no slouches going forward, while they failed to score in just one of their away matches against top-six teams during the regular campaign. Keeping out a hard-pressing Valladolid side may be difficult but profiting on the break probably won’t be. At the very least, as was the case when the teams last met, Rubén Baraja’s men won’t be without chances in this match.
At the end of the day, with Valladolid’s attacking approach in mind, an open encounter is likely to unfold. Consider this in conjunction with the fact that both team have scored in eight of their ten combined respective home and away matches against top-six teams and it’s easy to arrive at ‘Both Teams to Score’ as a bet.
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Gijon came out on top when the teams last met, winning by a goal to nil at this venue, though they were without a win against Valladolid in six prior to that. Interestingly, both teams have scored in seven of their last ten renewals of this fixture, while at least three goals have been scored in five of the last seven meetings between the two at Estadio José Zorrilla.
The hosts are likely to be without Antonio Cotan on Thursday evening, though they have no fresh concerns. Deivid, who has been out since February, is also a doubt, though the defender is reportedly on the verge of returning.
Gijon have zero fitness concerns ahead of this match. Alex Perez will miss out through suspension, though he will be able to return of the second leg. Aside from that, the visitors are expected to be at full strength.