Copa del Rey: Deportivo Alaves- Celta Vigo
First leg last midweek ended 0-0, Alaves deserved that result and should be in confident mood after making wholesale changes for the Sunday trip to Sporting Gijon and still coming away with a 4-2 win. Their return to the top flight could hardly have gone any better, they were playing third tier football four seasons ago and following promotion, sit 14 points clear of relegation and on the cusp of a Cope del Rey final, with mighty Barcelona awaiting the winner.
However, seven players did play some part in both games last week and a further three made the trip up and along the coast to Gijon and Celta do have an advantage in that regard, as their weekend league game was postponed due to storms. The first leg was played in high winds and heavy rain, conditions which preceded the storm that ripped off part of the stadium roof and caused the weekend fixture to be cancelled and which, you have to feel, favoured Alaves.
Celta put in huge effort to win their two legged quarter final against Real Madrid and did so at the expense of some league points, looking to give themselves the chance of their first major silverware in 16 years. On a going day they can beat anyone, witness the quarter final win at the Bernabeu and the defeat and four goals they put past Barcelona in early season and when things click, they can be very tough to beat.
Mendizorrotza has been spoken of as a "fortress" but I don't really get that and Alaves have actually won only 2 of 10 La Liga starts here (Betis and Granada) and they have still to host 7 of the top 10, including 5 of the top 7 (the three top ten teams to play here took 7 points home with them). They are clearly happier when they do not have to make the running and even last season as Segunda champions, they looked happiest on the road and they are going to have to look to score at some stage tonight if they want to progress. Conditions should be more conducive to good football this evening and I will side with the more talented footballing side to prevail and find a way to win.
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