Valencia v Atletico Madrid preview
By Kristian Walsh - @Kristian_Walsh. Last Updated: 09/09/11 5:31pm
Soldado: Late show to salvage Los Che
The foundations of the Mestella are still reverberating from Valencia's dramatic win against Racing Santander, but Unai Emery will be calling for calm and perspective when Atletico Madrid visit at the weekend.
SKY BET MATCH ODDS
Valencia 10/11, Atletico Madrid 3/1, Draw 5/2. Bet now
The euphoria from Roberto Soldado's hat trick to seal a dramatic comeback from 3-1 down has swept across Los Che, demonstrating their team spirit has not been affected by the departure of star player Juan Mata to Chelsea.
But the fact Valencia had fallen two goals behind at home to Racing and needed two goals in the final three minutes to rescue the game will alarm Emery, who will need time to find his best side.
Conceding three goals from just three shots on target will be a worry - but it's one that can be eased with the introduction of Diego Alves in goal. Alves was curiously left on the bench for their opening game, with last season's no.1 Vicente Guaita preferred. Alves, a summer signing from Almeria, was widely expected to become first-choice goalkeeper this season; an expectation which may be fulfilled after Guaita's performance.
Valencia's defensive worries are nothing new, however. Despite finishing third, they conceded 21 goals at home last season but kept eight clean sheets, highlighting how their confidence can be effected by losing an early goal; in fact, 14 of the 21 goals came in just five games.
The pressure will be on Atletico to capitalise on this potential for collapse, particularly after their goalless draw at home to Osasuna.
But much like Valencia supporters need perspective after their 4-3 win, it's also required of Atletico fans after their disappointing draw.
New-look Atleti had 28 shots at goal against Osasuna, albeit only eight hit the target. This profligacy can be attributed, in part, to the absence of Falcao, while Arda Turan was resigned to a place on the bench. Mario Manzano has also brought in Brazilian playmaker Diego and winger Pizzi, who impressed as much for Pacos de Ferreira last season in the Portuguese league.
The hope for Atletico fans is that this new crop of attacking talent can replace Forlan, Aguero and Simao quickly. If they do, there'll be few repeats of their Osasuna frustration.
It's undeniable there are some big football boots to fill, however. Atletico recorded seven wins and four draws away from home last season - the fourth best record behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia. Worryingly for them, just three of the 19 away games featured goals from players still available to play for the club against Valencia.
The time for Falcao, Turan and Diego to show they're capable of firing for Atletico will come, but if it doesn't come soon, the gap to European contenders - such as Valencia - could be too far to bridge.
Best bet: Valencia to win - 10/11
Spanish Primera BBVA
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