MADRID — Facing the
virtually impossible mission of reversing a seven-goal
deficit against Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa
del Rey semifinals, coach Gary Neville hopes a decent
result against the Spanish giant will help start turning
things around for Valencia.
In addition to restoring
some dignity, a home win against red-hot Barcelona on
Wednesday could help steer the team back in the right
direction after a dismal run under Neville's command.
A victory at Mestalla
Stadium would also put Valencia in the history books as
the team that kept Barcelona from breaking its club record
of 28 games without a loss.
Although no one denies
there is little chance of overturning the humiliating 7-0
first-leg loss, the return match means Valencia can regain
some confidence and prove it's better than recent results
have been showing.
"We obviously put
ourselves in a ridiculous position in that match,"
Neville said. "It was unacceptable. But what I can
see is that last Wednesday was a massive accident. That
was a freak match."
In his first head-coaching
job, Neville is under increased pressure because of a
series of poor results. The team hasn't won in nine
Spanish league games since he took over less than two
"The reality is, if
you don't get the results to go with improvement in
performances, then you lose some strength in your
words," the former Manchester United and England
defender said. "I see a difference (in the team) in
the last three weeks but no difference in results and that
is the thing that really is annoying, frustrating and
disappointing for everybody at the club."
Valencia is 14th in the
Spanish league with five victories in 23 games.
Here are other things to
watch in the Copa del Rey semifinals this week:
With a spot all but secured
in the Copa del Rey final for the third straight season,
Barcelona's main goal will be to keep its unbeaten streak
alive and break the club's record.
Luis Enrique's team can be
the first to reach 29 consecutive games without a loss in
Barcelona on Sunday tied
the record of 28 unbeaten match set by Pep Guardiola's
squad in 2011, and now it's a draw away from surpassing
Enrique's team hasn't lost
since a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the seventh round of the
Spanish league in October.
It will also be trying to
win its 11th game in a row in all competitions.
Sitting on a 7-0 lead,
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is expected to rest some of
the team's top players in the return match against
Lionel Messi is one of the
players likely to miss action as he underwent tests this
week after a recurrence of kidney problems he had in
December. Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal at the
time because of renal colic, an abdominal ailment often
related to the presence of kidney stones within renal
Messi scored a hat trick in
the first leg against Valencia. Luis Suarez scored the
other four goals.
Sevilla will travel to Vigo
to defend its 4-0 lead over Celta in the semifinal on
Sevilla has thrived in the
Copa del Rey with victories in all of its seven matches.
The team hasn't conceded a single goal so far, while
The teams will be meeting
for the third time in a week. In addition to the first leg
of the semifinal in Seville, the teams also met in the
Spanish league this weekend, when they drew 1-1 at the
Balaidos Stadium in Vigo.
"We need to respect
Celta," Sevilla coach Unai Emery said. "We have
to continue what we started last week in the first
Sevilla is trying to reach
the Copa final for the first time since 2010, when it won
the title. Celta has never won the Copa del Rey.