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  • Ricardo Costa 64'

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Djukic talks up Malaga

Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic has billed his side's opening game of the new season at home to Malaga as a battle between two teams who will spend the campaign competing with each other for a place in the Champions League.

Both sides entered Europe's elite competition last season, Valencia reaching the last 16 and Malaga the quarter finals, but failed to qualify for this year's edition.

The two teams have seen key personnel, including their coaches, depart this summer.

Valencia have sold top scorer Roberto Soldado, while Malaga have seen an even larger exodus of players, with Isco, Joaquin, Javier Saviola, Martin Demichelis, Julio Baptista and Jeremy Toulalan all moving on.

Despite the changes that have gone on at Malaga this summer, Djukic still rates Bernd Schuster's side highly.

He told a press conference: ``Malaga have new players but a similar philosophy to last season's side, with players who like to play attacking football and treat the ball well. We have to make use of this opportunity and try to beat them.''

The Serbian described his own side as ``a solid team that can fight on all fronts'' and indicated that he expects big things of midfielder Ever Banega this year.

``He is demonstrating that he is a leader, a very good player than can do great things for us'' Djukic said of the Argentinian.

``Now is a good time for him, in a footballing and personal sense, and that's helping him to develop his profession in a relaxed manner,'' he added.

The coach revealed that Sofiane Feghouli and Sergio Canales were unlikely to start the game due to a lack of fitness, while Aly Cissokho, who is on the verge of joining Liverpool on loan, has been left out of the squad for the game.

Malaga defender Sergio Sanchez has emphasised how important it is for the club's eight new arrivals to start clicking with their team-mates as soon as possible.

``Ensuring the team works well together is crucial,'' he told a press conference.

``Last year's squad was great and this season's new signings are definitely shaping up to be great too - young players full of determination to achieve big things. In order for a team to be successful, the players all need to work well together, and this is what we'll do again this season.''

Sanchez will miss the game, as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury, while centre-back Weligton has been ruled out of action for at least two months after fracturing his collarbone in a pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.

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