Girona v Celta Vigo
Matchday 3 of the 2022/23 La Liga season starts with Girona vs Celta Vigo, as the newly promoted side play at home again just four days after beating Getafe 3-1 to give their fans belief that they do have what it takes to stay up. After narrowly losing 1-0 at an ultra-defensive 10-man Valencia in Matchday 1, they responded by dominating Getafe in what was a wild game, one that could have had even more goals had it not been for VAR and the woodwork.
Celta Vigo have been involved in a couple of wild ones so far as well. They started with a 2-2 draw at home to Espanyol, conceding a penalty deep into stoppage time to give up the victory that they’d had within their grasp. Then they were thrashed 4-1 at home to Real Madrid last weekend in a game where they didn’t actually play that poorly.
These two teams are still figuring themselves out. Of all LaLiga clubs, they had two of the busiest transfer windows and the new arrivals are still trying to gel with each other. But, we’ve started to see glimpses of how dangerous their new-look attacks can be. Taty Castellanos, the MLS top scorer brought in at Girona, looked good vs Getafe and scored his first LaLiga goal, and threatens to form a dangerous strike partnership with veteran Cristhian Stuani. Meanwhile, Celta Vigo’s talisman Iago Aspas has already developed a positional understanding with Gonçalo Paciência, making Celta’s attack look much more dangerous than it did towards the end of last season.
Both these teams have appear to have their strengths in attack rather than defence, which makes sense since they both have attack-minded coaches. Under the Friday night lights, we should, therefore, see a back-and-forth game with a lot of chances and, probably, a lot of goals too.
Real Betis v Osasuna
This is a clash between two of the four La Liga teams that have won their first two matches, so at least one 100 percent record is about to fall and Real Betis are much more likely to keep up theirs.
For starters, Osasuna’s two wins so far both came at home (2-1 vs Sevilla and 2-0 vs Cádiz), whereas Real Betis have won one at home and one away (3-0 at home to Elche and 2-1 away at Real Mallorca). Now, Real Betis have home advantage and what should be an intimidating atmosphere. Even though it’s on a Friday night, and you might think that’d impact the attendance figures, keep in mind that Real Betis got 50,622 spectators to come out to their 59,000-capacity ground for the recent home game against Elche, even though that was on a Monday night.
Looking at each side’s numbers so far this season, they’re obviously quite impressive since they’ve won both games. They both have similar xG against, of 1.76 for Real Betis and 1.98 for Osasuna. Then, after Real Madrid, who lead the xG for charts at this early stage, Real Betis and Osasuna are second and third with 6.21 and 4.28 respectively. However, this changes significantly when looking at non-penalty xG. Real Betis stay second with 4.73, whereas Osasuna fall to 10th with just 2.05 non-penalty xG.
While three of Osasuna’s goals so far have come from the spot, so too have two of Real Betis’ strikes. But, the above stats demonstrate that Real Betis are creating many other open play chances, whereas Osasuna really aren’t.
Real Betis should also have reinforcements for this game, as they’re expected to have registered several players in time for this one, after being unable to have the likes of Joaquín, Luis Felipe or Andrés Guardado available for the first couple of matches. While these players aren’t starters, they can provide a boost off the bench that Real Betis haven’t had so far, even as they’ve taken maximum points.
Elche v Real Sociedad
Of all the fixtures taking place this weekend, Elche vs Real Sociedad is certainly in contention for being the least attractive. These are two very low-scoring teams, with both sides netting just 40 goals over the 38 games of last season. They’ve each carried that trend into the first couple of games of 2022/23, with Elche scoring just one goal so far (3-0 loss at Real Betis and 1-1 draw at home to Almería) and Real Sociedad two goals (1-0 win at Cádiz and 4-1 loss at home to Barcelona).
Elche are, in fact, rock bottom of the early season xG standings, with just 1.19 in xG so far. Real Sociedad have produced 3.44 in xG, but they’ve continued their misfiring in front of goal by underperforming it, just as when they had the largest negative difference between xG and actual goals scored in all of LaLiga last term.
For Real Sociedad, it’s not as if they’re suddenly about to start taking their chances either. They are still without star forward and captain Mikel Oyarzabal, as he’s out for the first half of the season with an ACL, and their starting centre-forward Alexander Isak is leaving the club for Newcastle United. That leaves La Real with a bare cupboard of attacking options, especially since Alexander Sørloth, Adnan Januzaj and Portu all left in the summer. Mohamed-Ali Cho has been signed, but he remains very much unproven.
Elche have changed up their attacking options too this summer, but as of yet they haven’t found a way for Ezequiel Ponce, Roger Martí and Lucas Boyé to click. It’s not just that they’re not scoring goals, it’s that their attack has so far looked disjointed and unscripted, in a bad way.
Considering these are also two teams with excellent shot-stoppers in Édgar Badía and Álex Remiro, it really could be a quiet afternoon for whoever is in charge of the scoreboard.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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