After derby success last Sunday, los Che continue their quest for a top four finish against Depor...
Without Copa del Rey action to consider following their elimination from the competition by Villarreal, Valencia can spend the next month fully focussed on their Primera Division duties. A top four finish last season carried the financially depleted club into the money-spinning Champions League, and a top four finish is once again the goal for Unai Emery.
Valencia presently look good to match that expectation. Los Che lie fourth in the standings, three points clear of surprise challengers Espanyol and seven ahead of a trio of teams including Atletico Madrid. While others start to fade, Valencia, who have not been without stutters themselves this term, are proving to be just too consistent.
Since losing 2-0 to Sevilla on the opening weekend of November, Valencia have lost only one of their eight subsequent matches in La Liga, and even that was against Real Madrid. Last weekend’s derby success against Levante may not have been spectacular, but it was a more comfortable match than the 1-0 scoreline suggested.
“I think we played a great game against a great rival, showing defensive strength and offensive efficiency,” Emery indicated to the press after the game.
With a strong record at home – five wins and three draws from nine matches – Valencia would expect to triumph on Sunday evening, though they will be in for another tough encounter against dogged rivals.
Focussed On La Liga
The opening weeks of the campaign were extremely worrying for Deportivo La Coruna, who failed to win any of their first eight league fixtures. Miguel Angel Lotina’s men have since bounced back impressively, gathering five wins from their last 10 matches and moving out of the relegation zone to something like a safe position.
Many of their best results have come at the Riazor, which was something of a stronghold for them this term until Barcelona visited last weekend. La Blaugrana made Super Depor look like amateurs by romping to an efficient 4-0 victory.
This season hasn’t all been about doom and gloom for the north-westerners, but coach Lotina is perfectly prepared to sacrifice the team’s one genuine chance of lifting silverware in order to maximise their performance in the league. The Galicians have made the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, but were lucky to escape Almeria only losing 1-0 in midweek, and Lotina confessed that the knockout competition is not a priority after the game.
“We have an eye focussed on doing well in the league, which is really important to us,” he told the media after watching his side get firmly outplayed by their hosts.
Having kept many of his best players in reserve, Thursday’s defeat will seem rather wasteful if Depor fail to shine at the Mestalla.
David Albelda will be missing after undergoing exploratory surgery on his knee, which will require a month to overcome. David Navarro and Tino Costa could return to action as they have been training normally, though Unai Emery may take a conservative approach with the players. Aritz Aduriz is banned.
Deportivo named a 20-man panel for the matches against Almeria and Valencia, and this hasn’t changed subsequently. Ruben Perez drops out due to a ban.
Jonathan Urreta, Saul Fernandez, Andres Guardado, Michel, Riki and Claudio Morel comprise the club’s injury list.