marchena will be out for three weeks :depress: but i think navarro and albiol can hold sociedad even though nihat and scoubo will cause problems. But we're unbeaten in the last 11 or 12 games and we now have the best defence in the liga, conceding only 19 goals.
they will be missing john viafara who got sent off for absolutely no reason last week. But the chillean kid mark gonzales will look to impress. they are now 13th in the league so it's easier to beat them than a team fighting relegation or one looking for a european spot.
barca will be careful looking forward to thier chelsea game and they might bench one or two unready starters, and betis always played well at the nou camp anyway. madrid will be facing an in-form alaves so a surprise could be expected from either match.
this is how the teams performed coming in to the game:
R. Sociedad L-W-L-D-L
This should be a 3 pointer but Scoubo and Nihat are dangerous going forward. I wonder though how their defence is going to handle Aimar and Villa! It's gonna be an interesting game. Valencia this season have played excellent versus the bigger teams and then dropped silly points versus the 'smaller' ones. Now it's time to show that the motivation is on top despite that!
it should but you dont just what to expect from sociedad. their form is pretty random and they'll give their all against big teams.
the first game was a close 2-1 our way, but we have improved a lot since then.this is the time valencia should step it up, since barca will be facing betis, zaragoza and deportivo the upcoming couple of weeks. in the meantime we will be facing sociedad, getafe and malaga before hosting real madrid. So it's now or never to get those points that count.
If you were in any doubt of the magnitude of last weekend's result at the Mestalla, let it be set aside. Victory over the Blaugrana not only reduced the gap to six points, it represents a notable psychological pick-me-up for Quique Flores and his charges.
We are now perhaps approaching the xenith of a run of form that Los Ches began just before Christmas, after a campaign that promised so much was in danger of deflating prematurely.
People haven't really been paying attention to Valencia in the last couple of months. It is hardly surprising, given the awe-inspiring, attention-grabbing form of Barcelona. While Valencia were picking up the points (though admittedly they tossed a fair few away), Barcelona were racing out in front, but recent weeks have put the breaks on. Valencia have struck while the iron is hot.
Reducing the gap is one thing, but doing so by overcoming the Liga leaders and favourites will have brought the realisation to Ches faithful that they could quite easily push Barca to the wire. It was the right time to play Rijkaard's men, with so many players missing and pressure from recent, surprising defeats - notably at Zaragoza in the cup and then at home to Atletico. Valencia got lucky in that respect, but the job was done. If they ever wanted to challenge for the title, then no mistakes could be made. That is still true, but now the motivation is surely there as well.
Valencia, though heavily reliant on David Villa for the goals (who, with suspicious timing I might add, was linked with Barcelona in the week), have coped very well with a surfeit of injuries to key players, and in crucial positions. Aside from the obvious abence of star performer Vicente, the Marchena-Ayala defensive duo (usually the cornerstone of Valencia's gameplan) have barely been available simutaneously this term, while the first choice midfield pairing of Baraja and Albelda that was to be relied upon in the absence of the crocked Edu has also been struck down. If these faces return to the side, coupled with a relatively injury-free Pablo Aimar for the rest of season, the 2004 champs are well-placed to give a stuttering Barca hell, while the latter battle on two fronts.
It all sounds good, of course, but now Valencia must try to forget about Barca, and win every single week. This match is a no-brainer in terms of expectation. The Basques have been inconsistent all season, but rely on their home form to snatch much-needed points. Despite sitting in mid-table, they 'boast' the worst defensive record in the league, conceding an average of two goals a game.
So Real are there for the taking. Valencia must now show the kind of professionalism evident in the heady Benitez days, and rack up the points from now until May. It will certainly make the season, which for a while looked dead and buried, a far more exciting spectacle.
Sociedad. Viafara is suspended, so young playmaker Gorka Larrea should come in. Top striker Nihat is still out injured, so the Uranga/Skoubo partnership continues for now. Keep an eye out for January loan signing Mark Gonzalez, yet to kick a ball in anger for Liverpool due to work permit problems. The system will be rigid so he may not start, but an appearance from the bench is possible.
Valencia. Marchena is rumoured for an unlikely start, but he will at least be on the bench. Mista is again available after sitting out through injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Skoubo. Well its not going to be a defender is it. The big target man is seen as the long term successor to Kovacevic, and has made an early impact. He will be looking to cause problems for the deputy Ches defenders, but will rely on good service.
Albiol. Yes I know, David Villa is the man of the moment, but young centre-back Albiol is worth a mention - he is currently celebrating the signing of a new contract. The stopper has coped admirably with the responsibility placed on his youthful shoulders in the absence of the likes of Roberto Ayala. A great asset for now and the future. Goals are not neccessarily flowing when Villa doesn't fire, and keeping them out the other end is vitally important - the crucial factor in Valencia's last two Liga winning seasons.
Real Sociedad (4-4-2): Riesgo, Rekarte, Labaka, Jauregi, Garrido, Novo, Alonso, Larrea, Gonzalez/Stevanovic, Skoubo, Uranga
Subs: Alberto, Prieto, Boris, Cifuentes, Garitano, De Paula
Valencia: (4-2-3-1): Canizares, Miguel, Albiol, Navarro, Moretti, Baraja, Albelda, Angulo, Aimar, Regueiro, Villa
Subs: Mora, Marchena, Aurelio, Viana, Rufete, Mista
Real Sociedad 0 – 2 Valencia
(Anoeta, San Sebastian)