What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Valencia vs Malaga
When: Saturday 20th April, 2013, at 21:00 UK Time
Where: Mestalla, Valencia, Spain

Tough Situation

As the 32nd La Liga matchday gets under way, Valencia well know that they have little time remaining should they want to turn their luck around and make a late surge for the Champions League places. Level on points with their adversaries Malaga, Ernesto Valverde’s team have a golden chance to upset their visitors from Andalucia and inflict damage to their continental ambitions. However, the 2004 league champions have only seen two wins in their last six league games and are having to fight hard to build a winning streak.

The club have been rocked with internal rife recently, which led to the resignation of Valencia president Federico Varona. But the team need to focus on their results on the pitch, according to striker Roberto Soldado, who declared that his side will eventually make the final-four cut at the end of the season.

“[Reaching fourth place] will be difficult, but we are showing fight. Getting into the Champions League is in our hands. There is still a long way to go; I think we’ll be there in the top four at the end of the season. I don’t see Valencia failing to make the Champions League cut.”

Valencia have won eight of their last ten meetings with Malaga at home, and given the way their opponents have been having a tough time as well, Los Che could make sure their night ends on a good note.

Continental Blow

Malaga were dealt a tough blow as they were on their way towards the semi-finals of the Champions League. With the score 2-2 against Borussia Dortmund in the dying minutes, Malaga were expected to go through on the away goal rule, however the Germans were able to score a last-moment strike that sent Manuel Pellegrini’s side out of the competition. Malaga were back to winning ways against Osasuna last weekend, but Los Boquerones will have a tougher job on their hands as they face direct rivals Valencia at the Mestalla, knowing that they have lost three of their last six games overall.

Malaga’s opponents are undefeated in ten of their last eleven matches in the league, and club midfielder Isco knows that his side will be in for a tough night against Valencia: “They are direct rivals, and it will be a very difficult match, but we have the confidence to do well. We have been playing a lot and we have to bring home the three points”, commented the former Valencia man.

The visitors have won the last two meetings against Valencia, but both have occurred at La Rosaleda. On the other hand, Valencia have scored at least twice at home in 13 of their last 16 league games and will pose problems for their guests from the south.

Recent form

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Valencia (31/03; La Liga)
Valencia 2-1 Real Valladolid (07/04; La Liga)
Espanyol 3-3 Valencia (13/04; La Liga)

Real Sociedad 4-2 Malaga (06/04; La Liga)
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Malaga (09/04; Champions League)
Malaga 1-0 Osasuna (13/04; La Liga)

Key absences

Valencia: Pablo Piatti; Antonio Barragan; Antonio Costa; Sergio Canales (doubt)

Malaga: Roque Santa Cruz; Francisco Portillo; Jeremy Toulalan; Pedro Morales; Jesus Gamez (doubt)

Players to watch

Valencia – Adil Rami: The French defender has not reached the same level he did last term, but still remains an integral part of Valencia. However, the 27-year old recently expressed his desire to play for a big club, and his wish could materialise should Valencia miss on the Champions League.

Malaga – Joaquin: The winger returns to the ground where he spent five seasons. Turning 32 next July, he no longer is the man he used to be, but can still be a nuisance for Valencia’s left-back. He will need to play a key role should his side want to win.

Match Prediction

Both sides have been enduring tough times lately, but the statistics are stacked against Malaga for this one. At the Mestalla, Valencia are expected to come up with the goods in their quest for a Champions League qualifying berth. Valencia 2-1 Malaga.

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