DIAS
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VCF - ATM

vs

Valencia CF vs Atlético de Madrid

Ago, 20 / 20:00 Jornada 1

Actualidad del Valencia C.F.
Febrero, 27 2018

Marcelino: “Our hope is to end the season in the position we’re in, we need to be ambitious”

Marcelino spoke to the press ahead of the game against Athletic Club, where Valencia CF will play for three very important points in the first of the “finals” they have left this season.

Athletic Club are in one of their worst spells, but against the big clubs they tend to turn up. How do you assess the game?

It’s a difficult team at their ground, they are having more problems than in previous years, although I can also remember seasons where they’ve had strong second halves of the season after an inconsistent first half. Only two teams have won there, seven of the 12 visitors in LaLiga haven’t scored a goal. They have a clear identity, a lot of pressure, they go long, with a lot of good finishers like Aduriz, Raul Garcia and Williams. We’ll have to build play in our half and defend well, it’s a really difficult game that we approach with the hope of winning.

It’s a three-game week, is it harder to correct Sunday’s mistakes or is the preparation the same?

In a week with three games it’s really important to start by winning the first, because it gives you a great starting point. I don’t think we made a lot of mistakes on Sunday, Real Sociedad had a lot of the ball, more than we wanted in our half, but apart from the goal which was a mistake, they only created one clear chance. Without having a good day in attack and with the ball, we were solid in defence and gave our opponent little. And we’ve taken a step forward in terms of set pieces and crosses, where La Real have scored around 20 goals this season. We would have liked to have more control and be more fluent on the ball.

How are Kondogbia and Garay?

Kondogbia could be in the squad depending on the last training session. It’s too soon for Andreas, he didn’t do all the group work yesterday, but progressively he’s joining in. Garay worked individually on Monday and I don’t know if he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game.

Looking at the team’s play, it seems they are less solid and playing less football. Will the team finish in the top four like that or do they have to step it up?

Let’s distinguish between solidity and freshness. We’re a more solid team than at the start of the season, remember that against Athletic Club in the first half of the campaign we weren’t solid and we won, they deserved to win more than us. On that day they created at least five chances, scoring two in the second half. In this case, the game against Real Sociedad, in a similar context, they created one chance from a set piece. We are more solid, our opponents aren’t getting into positions a much as when we were winning earlier in LaLiga. At that time our attacking players were in top form and taking a lot of chances and scoring goals.

When Real Sociedad scored we got a bit anxious, because we had to compete in a new situation. At first we were a surprise package, with no fixed objectives and of course not so high in the table, and now we have the chance to be in the top four and that adds something. We don’t want that to limit our freshness.

Two seasons ago, when you got Villarreal CF into the Champions League, you had 49 points on matchday 25, as now. Can that be a reference point?

Each season is different,  as well as finishing in the top four against the odds, we got to the Europa League semi-finals beating Napoli and Bayer Leverkusen. We have to focus on the short term and try to beat Athletic, which would get us closer to our long term objective. We need to focus on each game as if it were a final, and the first of the 13 left is Athletic.

You have 13 finals left for what objective? The Champions League?

When we have eight games left, more or less, we can define our objective, our hope is to finish where we are, we don’t work to finish fifth or sixth. We have to be ambitious, we’ve been in the Champions League places for 20 matchdays and we want to do everything possible to achieve it.

Does the team need to keep a clean sheet?

It would be good to strengthen what we’re doing, for the players self-esteem, because I think on balance the performance is good. Even in the Barça game, we have to remember what we did well, chances created, and to convert that good work into not conceding would be good for us, let’s see if we do it in Bilbao.

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