Calderon has lifted Betis spirits, says Figueras

Real Betis coach Gabriel Calderon has lifted spirits and provided renewed optimism that the team can avoid relegation since taking over at the helm, according to defender Jordi Figueras.

Gabriel Calderon

Betis may be bottom of the Primera Division and still eight points from safety, but they have been buoyed by last weekend's dramatic 2-0 win over Espanyol - their first league win since September.

And they will be hoping to build on that by picking up a further three points when they travel to Valencia on Saturday.

"The win has allowed us to take a very important step in terms of team spirit," Figueras told reporters.

"Before Calderon arrived, our spirits were very low. From day one he told us that he wanted us to be happier and with smiles on our faces again. He said that was the only way we'd start winning.

"Against Espanyol, everyone produced a top performance. Now we want to keep on winning games, starting on Saturday."

The defender also praised the impact loan signing Alfred N'Diaye had on his debut.

"He is a real beast, and he had a superb match," Figueras said of the midfielder, who impressed on his debut for Betis, playing as part of a five-man defence.

"From the little time we have spent working together, I have seen how powerful he is physically. He was also very good taking the ball out from defence. We hope he keeps it up."

Betis face a Valencia side boosted after pulling off a shock 3-2 win over Barcelona, becoming the first team to defeat to inflict a home defeat on the Catalans since Real Madrid in April 2012.

But Juan Antonio's side will be without two players who played an important role in their win at the Nou Camp, with captain Ricardo Costa suspended after picking up a fifth yellow card in the game and midfielder Oriol Romeu ruled out for at least four weeks with a knee injury sustained in training.

The absence of the Portuguese defender means new signing Philippe Senderos could make his Valencia debut against Betis, while forward Eduardo Vargas, who came on as a substitute at the Nou Camp, may be in line for his first start with his new club.

Salva Savilla, also suspended for picking up too many bookings, is Betis' only fresh absentee going into the game.

Figueras added that the 40,000 fans packed inside the Benito Villamarin helped the team to victory against Espanyol, and said he and his players would use the experience as inspiration at the Mestalla, and away to Granada the following week.

"It's a spectacular way of motivating us to go out onto the pitch and win for them, who will be suffering from far away," he said.

"We want to keep Betis up, and we also suffer like the fans do. If we can get something positive from these two games, the people who thought we were finished will start to think again."



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