11 March 2020
A heavy 4-1 away defeat to Atalanta in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League (CL) last-16 tie gives Valencia a mounting to climb going into the return leg that takes place at the Estadio de Mestalla this week.
Even though they finished top of Group H ahead of Chelsea and Valencia, the hosts have practically sneaked into CL the knockout stages thanks to a narrow 1-0 away win over Ajax on Matchday 6. At home, the Oranges have won just once in three CL group stage fixtures (D1, L1) this term, with each of those games featuring goals in both halves and over 2.5 in total. But, they can still rely on a solid recent home form (W3, D1), although two of their three wins across their last four competitive home matches yielded a single-goal margin. Indeed, Valencia’s main problem here is that they need to score at least three goals to progress, which is something they managed to do in just three games in all competitions this season.
In the meantime, the visitors head to Spain on a run of six straight games without a loss in all competitions (W5, D1), scoring over 1.5 goals in each and 24 in total. Despite starting their European campaign slow (D1, L3), the Italians have made it to the round of 16 thanks to two consecutive victories on Matchday 5 and 6, with each of those wins yielding over 1.5-goal margin and a clean sheet. Free-scoring Atalanta have score precisely seven goals apiece in two of their last three competitive away matches and have failed to find the net only twice in 17 road trips in all competitions this season. But, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men have conceded at least one goal in five of their six previous away fixtures, allowing over 1.5 goals on three of those occasions.
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