Sunday evening (6:30pm UK) at Mestalla, Valencia host newly-promoted Girona, in the kick off to what could be a tumultuous 2022-23 season for both sides.
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Where to watch Valencia vs Girona on TV:
- UK: Premier Sports 1; La Liga TV
- US: ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes+
Valencia team news
Generally, even for teams with muted expectations, the dawn of a new season brings with it hope. After all, every team begins Matchday 1 on level ground. Sometimes, however, a club finds itself in a sufficiently embattled state off the pitch that not even a return to competitive football can overwhelm the angst. At the time of writing, and presumably for a time to come afterward, Valencia are such a club.
From the frequent antagonism of the fans by principal owner Peter Lim and his family, to the near constant state of upheaval during Lim’s time in charge ( club president Anil Murthy was fired this offseason and, counting caretakers, the club is on its eighteenth managerial stint since Unai Emery’s 2012 departure), to a financial crunch that’s led to a wave of high profile departures in recent seasons (fan favorite and captain Dani Parejo in 2020, Ferran Torres last season and, most recently, Wolves-bound Gonçalo Guedes) that may yet spread to the side’s most significant remaining players, Carlos Soler and José Luis Gayà, Valencia’s situation – despite a top-ten finish and an appearance in the Copa del Rey final – is arguably the most depressing in La Liga.
One glimmer of hope for new manager Gennaro Gattuso – aside from the continued presences of Soler and Gayà – is the arrival of talented 20-year-old midfielder Nico, via loan from Barcelona. it’s worth noting that with Nico, Soler, Gayà and fellow defender Gabriel Paulista, there’s enough talent on hand to put together another solid season. However, with the uncertainty permeating every corner of the club, a lack of depth and quality in attack in light of Guedes’ departure, and the players tasked with learning yet another new system, it’s reasonable to question just how realistic that is.
Girona team news
Girona, it must be said, are in a much better state as a club. In fact, this is a side that defied the odds in 2021-22. Only thanks to a tiebreaker did Girona lock up sixth place and the final spot in the promotion playoffs. Once there, however, this side earned its way into the top flight. So, in that sense, things are going as well as could be hoped for Girona.
Where this season could (and probably will) go south is, simply, on the pitch. Despite the acquisitions of young Man City right back Yan Couto and MLS top scorer (in 2021, and again in 2022, until the time of his signing) Taty Castellanos of NYCFC (it’s worth noting that both NYCFC and Girona are owned by City Football Group), this remains a good-not-great second tier team that’s relying heavily on a 35-year-old striker in Cristhian Stuani – albeit one who scored 40 goals in 65 top flight outings with the club between 2017 and 2019 – and will likely be undermanned in defense.
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The tough times that almost surely await Girona lay in the future. In the here and now, this is a team that’s surely thrilled to be back among the big boys, and should ride the momentum of their unlikely promotion to a few early-season results. A contest like this opener, against the club in disarray whose fans are in open revolt against ownership, in intense summer whether that’s sure to sap the energy of all involved, is an excellent opportunity for the of these results.
Scoreline prediction: Valencia 1-1 Girona
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