Martinez: Home form must improve
© EFE

Real Valladolid coach Juan Ignacio Martinez has underlined the importance of his team improving their home form in 2014, ahead of their match with fellow strugglers Real Betis.

Los Blanquivioletas have taken nine points from a possible 24 at the Jose Zorilla stadium, a tally the coach believes they must improve on if they are to avoid relegation. Valladolid enter the new year in a precarious situation, 17th in La Liga's table and level on points with Osasuna, who occupy the final relegation spot.

"Being strong at Zorilla is vital if we want to achieve our objective of survival and Saturday is our first chance to show we are capable of doing just that," Martinez told a press conference. "We're up against Betis, a team who are wounded and in a very difficult situation, just like us."

The coach has been dealt a poor hand in terms of absentees, with Patrick Ebert, Heinz Barmettler, Gilberto Alcatraz and Oscar Gonzalez all unlikely to play after missing training 48 hours before the match, but Martinez stressed: "Whoever ends up playing will do a good job, injuries are no excuse."

Martinez also hopes his team can bounce back from the 4-2 defeat they suffered at Espanyol just before the Christmas break, and called for a repeat performance from the last home game of the year, the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo. "This match is hugely important and we have to change with regards to our last match with Espanyol, we have to learn from what happened there," he said.

"Against Betis we are at home and we have to show the same attitude as against Celta, because it's obvious that achieving our objective depends on us doing well at home, dropping as few points as possible here."

Betis meanwhile sit at the bottom of the table, five points adrift of Valladolid and in desperate need of the victory on Saturday.

New coach Juan Carlos Garrido has not had the desired impact in the two league games he has been in charge of the team since replacing Pepe Mel at the start of December, losing 5-1 at Real Sociedad and then going down 1-0 at home to Almeria.

"We played well but Almeria had one shot on goal and scored," defender Paulo told reporters, reflecting on the match before the trip to Valladolid. "It was hard to take but that's football, it's not mathematic. We were left feeling distraught but now we need to win, for ourselves and for our fans."

And the Brazilian left a defiant message in spite of his team's plight, declaring: "I'm certain we will stay up and stay in the Primera Division."