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15.12.2007 11:52

Valencia looking to bounce back

Jesús Carrillo

FC Barcelona face a very tricky trip to Mestalla on Saturday night to take on a Valencia side that will be keen to bounce straight back after dropping out of Europe in midweek, and despite their current lowly position, are always tough opponents.

The elimination of Ronald Koeman's side from all European competition on Tuesday followed hot on the heels of Quique Sánchez Flores' dismissal as coach in what has ben a very difficult start to the new season for Los Ché.

Seven new faces

During the summer, Valencia looked to rebuild their squad as the club brought in seven new players. Goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand joined along with defenders Iván Helguera and Alexis Ruano, while midfielders Manuel Fernandes and Sunny signed and Javier Arizmendi and Nikola Zigic were also added to the ranks. Leaving the club were Roberto Fabián Ayala, Curro Torres, David Navarro, Hugo Viana, Jorge López and Mario Regueiro.

Koeman replaces Quique

071110-VCF-MUR-FOT-MORIENTE.jpgThe team suffered some bad results, especially in the Champions League, earlier in the campaign and at the end of October Sánchez Flores was sacked after a board meeting. Koeman was contacted and after he had stepped down from his role at PSV, moved to Mestalla along with his assistants, Toni Bruins Slot and Jose Mari Bakero.

Despite the change in coach, the results have still not been favourable, and the team failed to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League or to grab third place for a UEFA Cup spot. Valencia lost both home and away to Rosenborg and were able to take a point from their trip to Chelsea in midweek after some heroic goalkeeping from Santi Cañizares.

Home improvements

Looking at Valencia's statistics in the league makes for curious reading. Away from home, Los Ché have earned 16 points, which is far more than Real Madrid, Barça, Atlético de Madrid or Villarreal. But it is in Mestalla that the team appears unable to perform as they have picked up only nine points in front of their own fans and allowed 12 to slip away. Three wins and four defeats at home indicates where the problem lies and why the team has slipped down the table.
Photos: www.valenciacf.es
Photos: www.valenciacf.es
Injury problems
Over the last two weeks, several Valencia players have picked up muscle injuries to add their names to the list of absentees. For the game against Barça, Koeman looks set to be without Hildebrand, David Villa, Raúl Albiol, Alexis, Marco Caneira, Miguel Ángel Angulo, Jaime Gavilán and Edu. In the build-up to the game the coach explained that the situation was beginning to worry him. Valencia's recent form may not be impressive, but they are still only three points away from the top four and just one place and a point behind the UEFA Cup positions.

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