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Having already enjoyed a notable career highlight at the Vicente Calderón, Valencia CF winger Juan Mata is hoping for a second night to remember as his side visit Club Atlético de Madrid with their UEFA Europa League quarter-final level at 2-2.
The 21-year-old scored his first goal for Valencia four minutes into their 3-1 victory against Getafe CF in the 2007/08 Spanish Cup final and is optimistic that augurs well for the coming challenge, saying: "I am hoping to have another thrilling experience here. I scored my first goal with Valencia and won the Copa del Rey in this stadium."
Two away goals in the first leg have left the tie tilted in the home side's favour, but Mata remain unconcerned and has no doubt that his side have the ability to score in the capital. "It shouldn't be so bad," said the former Real Madrid CF trainee. "We need a goal to qualify, and that kind of target is good for us."
With the UEFA Europa League in its first season since it evolved from the old UEFA Cup there is an added incentive for all the quarter-finalists and Mata did not understate the gravity of the occasion. "This is the most important match of our season," he said. "It's a final for us and we hope to have more big games in the next round."
The Spanish international has faced Atlético three times already this season, and knows how dangerous they can be. "We are similar sides in terms of making chances, but Atlético are very quick up the flanks and have very talented players who will be particularly dangerous in front of their own fans," he explained.
All the more important, then, that Valencia's travelling supporters are in good voice on the night of the match. "I want to thanks all the fans that have travelled from Valencia to support us in this important match," said Mata, who has scored five goals in 11 UEFA Europa League appearances this season. "We are going to give our best to win."
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