Champions league: Schalke 04 vs. Valencia

Valencia open their Champions league with what might prove to be their most important match, as on paper they will be fighting Schalke 04 for the second position, given that Chelsea are almost certain to take top spot.

This is not going to be an easy match for Quique Sanchez Flores’ men, however. They have had a very irregular start to their domestic season and at the weekend were booed –even though they won! Schalke have drawn four out of their first five games, but it has to be said that at the weekend they took a point from Bayen’s Allianz Arena stadium, and with the home crowd behind them, they are going to attack Valencia from the start looking for the win and the three points.

The Spanish side have to show their best football if they have any hope of taking any points, and will need to play much better than they did against Valladolid. Coach Quique Sanchez Flores is expected to bring back international stars Silva, Albelda and Marchena into the starting line up after resting them, and he is hoping to see an improvement in some of his players’ form. Keeper Santiago Cañizares, usually a solid figure in goal, made a tremendous mistake at the weekend that cost Valencia to concede the first goal. Likewise, striker David Villa is a shadow of his former (last season) self and he could even be benched to make way for one of the summer signings, most likely the giant Zigic, if he is fit enough. There is some good news for the Spanish coach, though. Midfielder Joaquin is on form and if Schalke concede him enough room, will make heaps of trouble for the Germans.

In my opinion, I just can’t see Valencia taking anything from this game. The club is going through a series of problems, both with players and internal squabbles, and this is starting to affect the squad on the pitch. Also, they never seem to do very well in Germany and I think Schalke will be a tad too strong for them. A home win then, but expect a very rough game.

Prediction: Home win (2-1)

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