Zakaria Bakkali

  Valencia’s newly aquired 19-year-old Belgian has been in the spotlight for off-the-field stuff more than his actual football over the last year, after a failed transfer to Atlético Madrid last summer turned into a stand-off between Zakaria and his then club, PSV. He was pretty much banished from the first team after refusing to agree to a new deal, despite easily being talented enough that the Dutch side would benefit from having him there. One thing led to another, and with his agent being Jorge Mendes, it won’t have been surprising to many that once free-agency came, Valencia was to …

Opposition Spotlight – Celta Vigo

The opponent As Luis Enrique’s Barca prepares to take on the old lady of Turin in the Champions League final, his old side is battling for relevance in the league. Once perennially in Europe, Celta Vigo have seen just one top eight finish since ’03, when they finished fourth and plummeted the entire way down to the Segunda the following year. 10th in the league, Celta are well out of contention for both relegation and the Europa League, but even though they have nothing major to play for, expect a fight – Their only defeats since mid March have been …

Opposition spotlight – Real Madrid

The opponent In the wake of all the drama surrounding La Liga’s new TV-deal, Valencia are preparing their orange and blue kits for an away game against one of the extremely few teams that would’ve undoubtedly preferred the split of the broadcasting money to stay the same. The Bernabéu awaits for a fixture that has brought us some incredibly entertaining football over the last few years. The last three final scores between the teams read 2-1, 2-2 and 2-3, so as we prepare for a thriller, let’s freshen up on our knowledge of Ancelotti’s Galacticos. For Real Madrid, the mindset …

Opposition spotlight – Rayo Vallecano

The opponent After a rather mediocre performance garnered a brilliant result when Granada visited the Mestalla Monday night, Nuno’s boys are headed for the Vallecas to add three new points to their tally in the dash for a spot in next year’s Champions League. There they’ll face Paco Jeméz’ crowd favorite Rayo, who are on pace to stay in the BBVA for a club record fifth consecutive year. The 11th placed side are currently in no man’s land as far as league placings are concerned, and barring a complete collapse or an inconceivable rally to end the season, that’s where …

Opposition Spotlight – Granada C.F.

The opponent Granada, who are currently in their second spell with manager Abel Resino, are coming in to this fixture sitting 19th in the league, after having won only one of their last ten games. A mere three points from safety – relatively speaking, anyway – the Andalusian side will surely be looking to build on the performance that earned them a point when Sevilla came to visit Los Cármenes last weekend. Not having won since they hosted Malaga in the beginning of March, however, it’s hard to say they’re coming to the Mestalla on the back of a good …