By 90Min
August 19, 2018

As the 2018/19 La Liga campaign kicks off this weekend, both Valencia and Atletico Madrid will be forced to wait it out having watched the rest of the league conclude their own affairs as Los Che host Los Coloncheros at the Mestalla on Monday evening.

Both sides approach the new season with huge optimism for different reasons. Marcelino's side hope to return to the UEFA Champions League after a six-year hiatus - where the Valencian outfit reached the last 16 before falling to a rising Paris Saint-Germain side in March 2013.

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Diego Simeone's side meanwhile come into their opening game having finally got the better of rivals Real Madrid in Wednesday night's UEFA Super Cup, and the visitors may be eyeing another more realistic title tilt in Spain with Los Blancos in particular, having concluded the Cristiano Ronaldo era.

For Atletico, after keeping hold of talisman Antoine Griezmann and recruiting Thomas Lemar from AS Monaco in the summer, now boasting the same French core that become world champions in Russia, the future looks rosy.

For that to stand up to reality however, Simeone's men will need to start off on the front foot against a rapidly improving opponent.

Here is all you need to know ahead of Monday night's clash at the Mestalla.


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Valencia have had somewhat of a curtailed pre-season preparation for the new campaign, but despite having played only two warm-up games remained unbeaten for the duration.

Traveling to England for a Premier League double-header to play Leicester and Everton respectively earlier this month, Los Che showed promise and found the target in both outings with Dani Parejo, Rodrigo's brace and new signing Daniel Wass from Celta Vigo all opening their accounts for the season as the Spanish side edged out the Toffees at Goodison Park 3-2 and held the Foxes at the King Power.

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As documented, Simeone's side are fresh from lifting their first silverware of the season in Tallinn and have had by far the busier preparation for the season.

Before their midweek in Estonia however, Atletico have not enjoyed a particularly fruitful pre-season. Losing to both Inter and PSG in the International Champions Cup, the Spaniards only beat Arsenal on penalties in the same competition.

Drawing also in Germany to Stuttgart, the Madrid side did get a win on the continent, beating Italian side Cagliari via Borja Garces' solitary goal of the game in Sardinia. After their defeat of Julen Lopetegui's side however, an average month of warm ups will mean little.


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Both sides will be able to name close to their strongest sides, with only a number of doubts ahead of the game.

Having made the summer switch from Atletico, striker Kevin Gameiro is pushing for a start for Los Che, but the game may come too soon for the Frenchman to line up against his former club due to a lack of match fitness.

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Midfielder Francis Coquelin had returned to training following an Achilles problem however, and could make his first appearance of the season.

The only main absentee for the visitors will be full-back Lucas Hernandez who is suspended. Filipe Luis is likely to fill in for the French defender. 


Prediction

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For both sides this represents a decent yardstick for the upcoming season. As a rapidly improving outfit Valencia now look capable of holding a more regular top four berth after more uncertain times of the past decade, the visitors will have their hands full.

Having assembled a potential front three of Gameiro, Rodrigo and Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea - with Denis Cheryshev having enjoyed an exuberant World Cup on his home soil - Marcelino's men look set for exciting season.

Their midfield maestro of Parejo is also central to their hopes and will be vital against his opposing midfield line of the likes of the increasingly adept Thomas Partey and Saul on Monday night.

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Atletico themselves though have an attacking unit of the stuff of nightmares in Griezmann, Lemar, Diego Costa and the newly acquired Gelson Martins which will likely be too hot for Valencia to handle on the night, but better times will come for Los Che.

Prediction: Valencia 1-2 Atletico Madrid

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