Valencia can show their mettle at Barcelona

Reuters , Thursday 16 Apr 2015

Valencia players (L-R) Rodrigo de Paul, Paco Alcacer and Javi Fuego celebrate a goal during their Spanish first division soccer match against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames stadium in Bilbao, April 9, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Peter Lim's takeover of Valencia has given the club's long-suffering fans hope the Singapore billionaire's investment will help propel their team back to the top in Spain and make them contenders in Europe again.

Saturday's La Liga game at leaders Barcelona is another chance for coach Nuno and the players to prove that the rebuilding project is on track and they can already compete with the continent's elite.

Valencia are fourth in the domestic league standings with seven games left and a win at the Nou Camp will keep them on course to secure a lucrative berth in the Champions League for next season.

They trail third-placed Atletico Madrid by a point ahead of the champions' game at Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday. Real Madrid are second, seven points ahead of Atletico and two adrift of Barca before they host Malaga on Saturday.

"When we go to a stadium as important as Barcelona's we go there with the intention of winning and enjoying ourselves," Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves told a news conference on Wednesday.

"The match against Barca is a challenge for us," added the Brazilian. "This team is doing some great things this season and what could be better than a game against one of the best teams in the world?"

Valencia last won La Liga in 2004 under Rafa Benitez and reached consecutive Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, losing to Real and Bayern Munich respectively.

The past decade has seen the club hobbled by financial problems which forced them to cash in top players, including David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata, to stay afloat.

However, Lim and his representatives have pledged a long-term commitment and some wise spending over the summer could lay the foundations for a run deep in Europe's elite club competition next term if Valencia secure their place.

The battle to avoid relegation continues at the other end of the La Liga table, with only three points separating debutants Eibar in 14th and third-from-bottom Levante in 18th.

Cordoba are five points adrift of Andalusian rivals Granada at the bottom ahead of their match at sixth-placed Villarreal on Sunday and appear doomed for the drop. 

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