Last updated at 20:05, Thursday 26th April 2012

Rami key to Che comeback


Mike Holden
Europa League - Thursday preview
1pt Under 1.5 goals Valencia v Atletico Madrid at 4/1Visitors can protect their two-goal advantage by keeping things tight at Mestalla.0.5pt e/w Adil Rami to score the first goal at 25/1Any Los Che threat likely to come from set pieces and Rami is the main danger.

Unai Emery and Valencia will part company in the summer but they were hardly united as one when going down 4-2 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid last Thursday and it's hard to envisage a dramatic turnaround in the return game on Thursday.

Los Che might be seven points better off than the Colchoneros in the Primera Division table but they looked every inch a team that has switched off to the ideas of its manager at the Vicente Calderon.

The basics on which the Basque coach usually prides himself were sadly lacking in a chaotic rearguard display and now the onus will be on the attack-minded players to try and get Emery out of a hole as he bids to leave a lasting impression at the end of a solid four-year tenure at Mestalla.

Back under 1.5 goals Valencia v Atletico Madrid at 4/1

However, while it's true that Valencia possess a deadly finisher in Roberto Soldado, this team isn't a patch on previous incarnations when it comes to carving out openings against stubborn opposition and the visitors look well-equipped to complete their progression to Bucharest with minimal fuss.

Atletico have shown ample defensive discipline since Diego Simeone returned to the club as manager during the winter break and though they shipped two goals when pushing the boat out on home soil, we fancy they will opt to be much more compact here and look to keep the emotions of a fervent Mestalla crowd in check.

Such thinking is at odds with the layers who expect another goalfest, so rather than committing ourselves on Atletico to avoid defeat at around even money, we'll stake our claim instead on under 1.5 goals at 4/1, knowing full well that the visitors would gladly accept a 1-0 defeat.

Back Adil Rami to score first at 25/1

That said, if Valencia are to force their way back into this tie, we expect the most likely threat will come from set pieces and, for that reason, we're also happy to have a speculative punt on Adil Rami to score the first goal at 25/1.

The Frenchman has bagged three goals in his last three Europa League appearances and he was unlucky not to find his way on to the scoresheet in the capital a week ago, shaving the post with one header and putting Valencia's first goal on a plate for Jonas with another.

Follow @Miguel_BOTB on Twitter