Valencia host Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League second round tie. Valencia, 3rd in La Liga, will be aiming to stifle the in-form Schalke strikers and keep a clean sheet going into the return leg. The Champions League represents Schalke’s best chance for bringing some respectability into a season that saw them flirt with relegation before rising back to the top 10 of the Bundesliga.
Valencia v Schalke Preview
Valencia will be without midfielder David Albelda for the visit of Schalke in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first-leg tie at the Mestalla Stadium. Brazilian striker Jonas is available after arriving in the January transfer window, while forward Juan Mata returns after an ankle injury.
Valencia come into the match in excellent form – a run of six wins in seven matches taking them up to third place in La Liga.
But Valencia coach Unai Emery insists his side’s push up La Liga has not left them ill-prepared for the match against Schalke, saying:
“We are focused 100% on Schalke.
We have had a lot of people analysing Schalke, and we want to transmit this excitement, this passion for the game on Tuesday so that we all can enjoy it.
We will work hard so that our fans can see their team play well and that we have more options of continuing in the competition.”
Schalke have few new injury worries ahead of the match. Frontman Raul returns to Spain for the first time since leaving Real Madrid after 741 appearances for the club. And should the striker score, it would take him above AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi as Uefa’s all-time leading goalscorer. The pair are currently tied with 70 goals each.
Raul’s former Real team-mate Christoph Metzelder is also returning to Spain, while Jose Manuel Jurado is back after joining Schalke from Atletico Madrid.
“We are optimistic,” said Schalke coach Felix Magath, whose side earned two draws on their last two visits to the Mestalla. “We are going to try to score the away goal that would help us.”
Schalke are coming off their fifth win in eight games – a 1-0 win over Freiburg – to move up to 10th in the Bundesliga having spent much of the first half of the season flirting with the drop places.
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