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Friday, 05 March 2021

Valencia well placed to secure Euro return

Reuters , Monday 9 Mar 2015
Valencia
Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi (R) celebrates his goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid March 8, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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After failing to qualify for Europe last season, Valencia are heading into the final weeks of the La Liga campaign in a strong position to secure a lucrative berth in continental competition for next term.

The recent takeover of the club by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim appears to have breathed new life into the club and hopes are high they can again mount a genuine challenge in Spain and Europe in coming years.

Sunday's 1-1 La Liga draw at champions Atletico Madrid leaves them in fourth spot with 12 games left, a point behind Atletico and five ahead of fifth-placed Sevilla.

Fourth would be good enough for Champions League qualifying but Valencia, runners-up in Europe's elite club competition in 2000 and 2001, will be determined to steal third from Atletico, whom they beat 3-1 at home in October.

That means Valencia have a superior head-to-head record, which is used to separate teams that are level on points at the end of the season.

However, they have some tough fixtures in coming weeks, with trips to leaders Barcelona and second-placed Real Madrid to negotiate as well as a home game against local rivals Villarreal.

Valencia captain Dani Parejo, whose free kick led to the equalising goal on Sunday, said he and his team mates needed to keep their feet on the ground and focus on Friday's game at home to struggling Deportivo La Coruna.

"We were rewarded for the great work we put in," Parejo told reporters after the stalemate at the Calderon.

"We are playing on Friday against an opponent who needs points and if we want to build on the point we got today we have to follow it up with a win."

Coach Nuno, who took over in July, urged his players to keep working hard.

"We cannot forget that we came to play at the home of the league champion and the runner-up in the Champions League," the Portuguese told a news conference.

"We are strong, this is a new project and that gives us strength."

After hosting Deportivo, Valencia's final game before the international break is at Elche.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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