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The centre-back, who returned to Spain last summer after a short spell with Napoli, feels the onus is on his side, Sevilla, Malaga and Athletic Bilbao to step up their game

Victor Ruiz believes Valencia's number one target this season must be to try to challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona for the Liga title.

Los Che finished third last season but finished a steep 39 points behind the title-winning Blancos, and 30 adrift of the second-placed Blaugrana.

Ruiz concedes that bridging such an obvious gap in class and competitiveness is near impossible but still wants that Valencia must shoot for the stars.

"The idea, at least, is for the team to try to get as close as possible to them," the centre-half told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

"We will not say we're going to challenge them, as we know that is difficult and right now they are one step above the rest - that is the reality.

"But we must try to get as close as possible and challenge them. And there are many teams that we are not going to make it easy for: Sevilla, Malaga and Athletic."

On a personal level, Ruiz is hoping to reclaim a regular starting spot after losing his way towards the tail end of the 2011-12 campaign.

"Last year, at the outset, the coach [former boss Unai Emery] gave me confidence but in the last month or so, I was further away from the first team," the 23-year-old explained.

"I must improve and, if possible, try to have continuity throughout the year. But I have to earn it in training and in games."

Victor Ruiz, who has been capped once by Spain's Under-23s, arrived at Mestalla from Napoli last summer.

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