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Primera División

  • January 2, 2011
  • • 21:00
  • • Estadio de Mestalla, Valencia
  • Referee: José Luis González González
  • • Attendance: 34500
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La Liga Preview: Valencia - Espanyol

La Liga Preview: Valencia - Espanyol

Sunday’s most mouth-watering Primera Division encounter pits los Che against los Periquitos...

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Fourth meets fifth in the Primera Division on Sunday night, when erratic Valencia meet an Espanyol side not noted for their travelling abilities.

Though the hosts lie stand four in the table, they are a side largely being propped up by their earlier season form. Unai Emery’s outfit picked up five wins from their opening six matches but have since earned only three wins in their subsequence 10 encounters.

At least los Che finished 2010 relatively well. Goals from Tino Costa and Aritz Aduriz turned round a 1-0 deficit against Real Sociedad to pick up a precious victory in San Sebastian, while a 0-0 draw against Villarreal at home in the Copa del Rey was hardly embarrassing, even if it does leave their life in the knock-out competition hanging by a thread.

Indications that all is not well on Spain’s east coast come in the press, where Valencia are being linked with a host of players, including centre-back Adil Rami of Lille and striker Kevin Gameiro of Lorient. Ambitions are high at the Mestalla, with president Manuel Llorente ready to set loft goals for his side.

“We are meeting our objectives, although the staff has changed a lot in the last year. We are in the knockout stages of Europe,” he told the media. “But we have to improve in 2010, because we will meet many skilled opponents.”

Los Periquitos are certainly awkward rivals, but Valencia will be confident of making a quick start after the winter break.

Step By Step

Espanyol have enjoyed a great start to the season. After a number of seasons of mediocrity, the Barcelona club go into 2011 with genuine ambitions of finishing in the top four, though Sunday night’s encounter against Valencia is of particular importance because it is a chance to get the fresh year off on a positive footing.

Despite their strong start, 2010 finished on something of a low for los Periquitos. A defeat against Athletic Bilbao might have been expected, but it was anticipated that Mauricio Pochettino’s side would be good enough to really test Barcelona at the Cornella-El Prat, where they had won seven matches from seven going into the derby. Barca caught fire, and romped to a 5-1 success.

The Copa del Rey was no kinder to the Catalans, who travelled to the Vicente Calderon in the days before Christmas to record a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid. With three successive defeats behind them, the break could not have come at a better time for Espanyol.

“The goal is to go step by step,” Pochettino told the press on Christmas Eve. “The objective we set ourselves is to move forward in each game. We are a young team who are trying to consolidate and I think the team's play during 2010 is highly commendable.”

With a positive aura still surrounding the team, 2011 promises to be an exciting year, and Sunday’s match could set the tone.


TEAM NEWS

Valencia

David Navarro has been training, but as he has only been running. In any case, he's suspended along with Roberto Soldado. Miguel Angel Moya and Cesar have also been battling problems.

Espanyol


David Garcia is out for a couple of weeks due to a muscular problem in his left leg. Javi Lopez is very unlikely to play, and Victor Ruiz is banned.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
13GuaitaGoalkeeper
23Miguel BritoDefender
33Marius StankeviciusDefender
20Ricardo CostaDefender
22Jérémy MathieuDefender
17JoaquínMidfielder
5Mehmet TopalMidfielder
8Hedwiges MaduroMidfielder
11Pablo HernándezMidfielder
20Aritz Aduriz ZubeldiaStriker
8Juan MataStriker
-SaúlGoalkeeper
-DealbertDefender
8Sofiane FeghouliMidfielder
23IscoMidfielder
18Jordi AlbaDefender
16Paco AlcácerStriker
14Vicente Rodríguez GuillénMidfielder
-Ever BanegaMidfielder
2BrunoDefender
1Carlos KameniGoalkeeper
2ChicaDefender
6Juan Daniel ForlínDefender
2Jordi AmatDefender
12Dídac VilàDefender
-Javi MárquezMidfielder
7Raúl BaenaMidfielder
10VerdúMidfielder
10Luis GarcíaStriker
7José Callejón Striker
17Pablo Daniel OsvaldoStriker
-Cristian AlvarezGoalkeeper
3Raúl RodríguezDefender
-Aldo Pedro DuscherMidfielder
-Álvaro GarcíaMidfielder
-Iván AlonsoStriker
-Jesús DátoloMidfielder
9Sergio GarcíaStriker
Players to Watch
Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia
Aritz Aduriz Zubeldia
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
31 16 8 2
Aritz Aduriz was the man who gifted his side three points immediately before the Christmas break, scoring in the 91st minute of their Primera Division encounter against Real Sociedad. The Basque forward has been in decent touch of late, also registering against Osasuna in the previous game. With talk of a new striker arriving in January, it is important maintains his form.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 17
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Espanyol’s conclusion to 2010 may have been below par, but Pablo Osvaldo’s performances certainly have not been. The former Bologna player has scored four times in his last five encounters, including a consolation strike against Barcelona. Additionally, he has proven to be something of a team player, contributing two assists in this same period. He is the biggest threat to the home side.
Prediction
Neither of these sides have been in particularly good form of late, but Valencia will certainly start this match as favourites after finishing 2010 strongly. Espanyol have won only seven of their 28 points on the road, and they would have to be happy with a draw at the weekend.

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Editor's Prediction

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