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Mata, Alba, Villa, Valencia, Osasuna (Getty Images)
Valencia returns to Champions League after a two year absence. The squad underwent a big renovation process during the summer and los Che will try to face the demanding competition with the intention of giving the best possible image and maybe cause some upsets.  


Valencia has been able to maintain a competitive and solid block despite being forced to sell some of their best players as a consequence of an excruciating economic crisis. After the overhaul this summer, Valencia is no longer the lethal squad it once was and now it has become a team of a slower transition. The che team own an excellent aerial game as its greatest virtue – Roberto Soldado and Aduriz are excellent in the air. In addition to this, Valencia have good second line players and great long-distance shooters. On the contrary, their biggest weakness is the defence, as the lack of synchronisation and lack of order provide facilities to its rivals.


The stars seem to have left Mestalla. David Villa, David Silva and Carlos Marchena have been the most representative players and now they all are gone. The leading baton has been picked by newcomers such as Soldado and Mehmet Topal, and by survivors like Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez. The two young Spanish players will be the stars of the new Valencia. Cesar Sanchez will also play a fundamental role between the posts, as well as Ever Banega in the midfield. Also Joaquin Sanchez will be one of the key players, once he puts aside his irregular performances.


Unai Emery extended his contract at the end of last season, despite some fierce criticism from some sectors of the fan base. The board of directors recognised his achievement in qualifying for the Champions League and rewarded him with a contract extension. During his two first seasons in the Mestalla, Emery has often used a 4-2-3-1 system. This year, after losing David Silva, his idea will be to alternate this system with a 4-3-3 formation. During the pre-season – as in the match against Fiorentina – he also has tried 4-4-2 with Soldado and Aduriz as the leading attacking duo, although it is unlikely that he will use this tactic.


The main successes of Valencia can be separated in two periods. The first one happened in the 40s when los Che won the league title three times and the Spanish Cup twice. The second period happened recently, under the leadership of Rafa Benitez with whom Valencia won two more Liga titles. As for European competitions, Valencia reached the Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001 and won the UEFA Cup in 2004.


The house of Valencia is the Mestalla stadium. Located in Avenida de Suecia, it receives that denomination for the irrigation ditch that flows under the field. The ches have played in Mestalla since 1923 and after several renovations, the stadium has a capacity for 55,000 spectators. It was chosen as venue for World Cup in 1982 and for the Olympic Games in 1992. In addition to this, the Spanish Federation often uses it to hold Spanish Cup finals or Spanish national team encounters. The stadium’s life has an expiration date as Valencia will move to a new location once the economic situation allows the club to build a new arena.



There are not many heroes left, after the brain drain of this summer. David Villa was the last big hero for the fans and the logical heir for this title should be Juan Mata, the only world champion left in the squad. However, the player from Burgos is not the only favourite of the fans; David Albelda or Vicente Rodriguez have owned a piece of the hearts of the fans for some years now.


Valencia returns this year to the biggest continental competition after a two years absence and should not set too ambitious goals. Even more so, considering that the team is going through a reconstruction process. Los Che should go step by step. To reach the quarter-finals should be the minimum goal. Everything that may come after that, should be considered as a surprise.  

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