Leverkusen and Valencia ready for 'final'
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Valencia CF agree that Wednesday's game is "like a final" as they meet twice in the next fortnight aiming to be the most likely Group E qualifiers alongside Chelsea FC.
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Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Valencia CF are fully aware how important their two meetings over the next fortnight are, with Robin Dutt calling Wednesday's first encounter "like a final". His Leverkusen side are currently a point ahead of their visitors, but both coaches feel that whoever's got the edge in two weeks' time will be well-placed to progress from Group E.
Coach Robin Dutt
Valencia and us have both said that this game is like a final. If we don't win at home against Valencia, we have to go there and get an away win. My goal is to win a title with Leverkusen, but it won't happen this year; there is a super-team [Bayern] preventing us. But I do believe that honest and diligent work will prevail in the end.
The public think there is a story for every club each season, and for Leverkusen people think it is that things did not work out between the new coach and the squad. There is maybe 15 to 20% truth that. I can live with this, but it does not do justice to the team. They are being presented in a bad light and that's not fair on them.
Saturday: VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-2 Leverkusen (Reus 65, Herrmann 72; Reinartz 20, Schürrle 87)
Leno; Balitsch, Reinartz, Schwaab, Kadlec; Bender, Ballack (Rolfes 61); Sam (Derdiyok 68), Schürrle, Castro; Kiessling
• Gonzalo Castro was sent off with 22 minutes remaining, Leverkusen's third red card in nine Bundesliga fixtures this term, before André Schürrle earned a point with his first league goal for the club.
Bastian Oczipka, out since breaking an ankle on loan at FC St Pauli on 19 February, is available but Tranquillo Barnetta, Renato Augusto and Michael Ortega are all out with knee injuries. First-choice keeper René Adler has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in mid-July. Fabian Giefer has not played since suffering concussion against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on 7 August.
Coach Unai Emery
We still have four group matches to play. We think that Bayer Leverkusen will be our toughest competitors for second place. Whoever is second after the two next matches are obviously favourites, but then there are two more games to be played. We must not forget that we have not won a single match so far. Tomorrow, we play to win, that's our only intention. We have to focus our energy on this single goal, we will have to reach our short-term goals.
We are still in development. Players with a lot of international experience have left us, but now we have new hungry players who want to go as far as the generation before. This is the chance tomorrow. But we also need patience and time and know that we have a lot of work to do. We have to remain stable in defence while at the same time improving our attack, there has to be a balance we still have to find. Players like [Juan] Mata are not here any more; many people are at the beginning of this new road.
Saturday: RCD Mallorca 1-1 Valencia (Hemed 90+3pen; Rami 38)
Guaita; Bruno, Rami, Víctor Ruíz, Alba; Pablo Hernández, Albelda, Canales, Parejo (Mehmet Topal 79), Piatti (Feghouli 63); Soldado (Aduriz 84)
• Adil Rami's second goal for Valencia was cancelled out after substitute Mehmet Topal conceded a late penalty. Nevertheless, Emery's side have suffered only one defeat – a 1-0 loss at Sevilla FC on 24 September – in 13 games.
Tino Costa is out with a right thigh strain and Hedwiges Maduro is expected to be sidelined until February after tearing ankle ligaments while training with the Netherlands at the start of October. Ever Banega is fit again.
Although the sides are meeting for the first time, each have a long record against teams from their opponents' country. Both have played 23 fixtures with Leverkusen's record against Spanish clubs showing W6 D5 L12; at home it is W4 D3 L4.