Atalanta [1.78] v Valencia [4.9]; The Draw [4.1]
Wednesday 19 February, 20:00
Live on BT Sport Extra
Atalanta unlikely quarter-final contenders
After three Champions League group games it looked extremely unlikely that Atalanta would qualify for the last-16, but here they are with a tie that they will consider winnable.
The Italians lost all of their first three games in Group C, getting thrashed 4-0 by Dinamo Zagreb and 5-1 by Manchester City in the process. The turning point was when they came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home with Manchester City in their fourth match. Atalanta then won their last two games to finish second in the group with just seven points.
Since making the last-16, Atalanta’s domestic form has improved. Currently fourth in Serie A, they have only lost twice in the league since the 3-0 win against Shakhtar Donetsk that confirmed their qualification (W5 D2).
The only injury doubt for the Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini is the central defender Bosko Sutalo, who has yet to play for the club since his January transfer from the Croatian club Osijek.
Valencia need to improve on the road
In contrast to Atalanta’s form, Valencia are without a win in their last three games (D1 L2).
A poor start to the season saw Marcelino controversially sacked and replaced by Albert Celades. Valencia have slowly improved since then and did well to win Group H, which contained Chelsea and Ajax.
They are in contention to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but have fallen a little off the pace, with a 3-0 defeat at Getafe being followed by a 2-2 home draw with Atletico Madrid on Friday. Though only two points away from the top four in seventh place, their away form will surely have to improve if they’re to qualify again. Valencia have only won one of their last six away matches (D2 L3) and even that victory came against the minnows Logrones in the Copa del Rey.
Celades has a couple of issues that will impact his team selection. Gabriel is suspended and Ezequiel Garay is out with a knee injury.
Home side are rightful favourites
Atalanta are the [1.78] favourites, with the draw at [4.1] and Valencia out at [4.9].
That seems a fair appraisal considering Atalanta’s good form and Valencia’s struggles away from home. When you look into Atalanta’s recent fixtures there have been some very impressive results. They won consecutive home matches by a 5-0 scoreline against AC Milan and Parma, drew 1-1 away at Serie A contenders Inter and in January won 7-0 at Torino.
Goals look guaranteed between regular scorers
At the same price of [1.78] is over 2.5 goals, with unders at [2.26]. Again, that looks big when you study Atalanta’s form.
That 1-1 draw at Inter was the only occasion in Atalanta’s last 13 matches that over 2.5 goals did not land. Valencia’s record this season adds to the argument. They have only failed to score in two of their 24 La Liga matches and found the net in five of their six Champions League games, including all three away from home.