Soldado: We can stop Real
Valencia striker Roberto Soldado is confident his side can halt the Real Madrid juggernaut tomorrow night and erase the memory of April's mauling at the Mestalla. Madrid won the corresponding fixture 6-3 last season despite fielding a weakened team just three days after an energy-sapping Copa del Rey final defeat of Barcelona.
The thrashing, and the ease with which Madrid achieved it, has become ingrained in the Valencia psyche and Soldado - himself a former Madrid player - is determined to make amends. He told www.superdeporte.es: "That game was a one-off. When we left the field it seemed as though we were inferior and that cannot be. Now our mind is on winning. We are in a good phase and after Madrid we have a very important game against Genk in the Champions League and there would be no better way of going into that than with a win against the league leaders."
Third-placed Valencia beat city rivals Levante in their last game before the international break and are on a three-game winning streak. But Soldado accepts it will be tough against a Madrid side who have won their last seven La Liga encounters, scoring 29 goals in the process.
He added: "Real Madrid are very dangerous but we are at the Mestalla. We believe we can win on Saturday. They are in their best form since (coach Jose) Mourinho arrived and it won't be easy but we want to give joy to our fans who will pack the stadium."
Madrid's former Valencia defender Raul Albiol is delighted with the team's free-scoring form of late which has seen them establish a three-point lead at the summit after 11 games. "We are as a team giving a better show. I think people are enjoying every game," said the Spain international.
"This year we are better and have improved in many aspects. We are heading in the right direction. We are more compact and stronger in defence and attack. The team knows that last year we lost important points and this year if we are to win the league that cannot be repeated."
Albiol put the improvement down to Mourinho. "He has given us a winning mentality and pushes us to the limit and we know we can't relax for a minute," he said. "We know he is a great coach but very day he demonstrates that more. Hopefully this year we will get the titles we want."
Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka later confirmed that Kaka would not be available due to a calf problem, although another Brazilian, Marcelo, is fit following a thigh injury. Karanka told www.realmadrid.com: "Marcelo has recovered and will make the squad list if things go well in training. Kaka hasn't recovered yet. I've suffered muscle injuries myself and I can tell you they are tough to determine; it sometimes seems you're fit to play when you really aren't.
"He isn't suffering from his previous injury; he's simply recovering from this muscle strain. (Portuguese defender Ricardo) Carvalho is also still recovering (from a back injury) and feels better. He is enjoying training. It will be better to wait and we hope he rejoins the team as soon as possible."