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Thursday, January 10, 2008
La Liga: Valencia see light at end of tunnel

MADRID, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Troubled Valencia are out to resurrect their Primera Liga campaign and end a run of six games without a win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

A tumultuous couple of months has seen new coach Ronald Koeman embark on a drastic restructuring of the side in a bid to halt a wretched run that has seen them slip 17 points behind leaders Real Madrid.

The shockwaves triggered by the decision to drop experienced hands Santiago Canizares, David Albelda and Miguel Angel Angulo continue to reverberate and midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who was involved in a nightclub fracas a week ago, has been loaned out.

The signing of highly-rated midfielder Ever Banega failed to stem the bad press around the club while the Argentine's transfer yet to come through.

But good news did come with their 2-1 away win over Real Betis in the King's Cup on Wednesday.

"The best medicine is to win games," said Koeman. "We have gone four or five without losing now and this is the way forward."

A visit to the Calderon, however, is not the ideal place to seek stability. Spectators there have witnessed more goals than in any other Primera Liga stadium, and seen seven players sent off in the last three league home games.

Atletico have profited from Valencia's slide to grab fourth place but are inconsistent and have only one win from their last three. Valencia are seventh.

Leaders Real assured themselves of the honorary title of champions of the first half of the season before the trip to bottom club Levante, enjoying a seven-point cushion.

Second-placed Barcelona cannot afford slip-ups at home to promoted Real Murcia on Saturday, especially with in-form city rivals Espanyol breathing down their necks in third.

Ernesto Valverde's outfit are a point behind and visit promoted Almeria on Sunday, on the back of a 14-match unbeaten run in the league.




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