Getafe eye push for Europe berth

Getafe coach Luis Garcia is relishing the battle for a place in Europe as his team prepare to face his former club Levante on Sunday at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium.

 Luis Garcia, Getafe Cf

Should Levante avoid defeat, they will reach their highest ever points total at this stage in a La Liga campaign, but their ambitions extend beyond that.

Garcia has relented from playing down what he recently called "ridiculous" talk about European football, and is looking up the table. Getafe began the weekend in ninth place.

And his team's task is helped by the fact that whoever finishes seventh will qualify for the Europa League, as Copa del Rey finalists Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are set to qualify for the Champions League automatically, meaning the cup place is handed down to the league.

Garcia said: "The fans are very excited about the team. The seventh European place has given many teams a chance of European football and we will keep trying until the end to be able to fight for that place.

"We are confident, I think the group are strong, united and the players are starting to blossom together.

"We need to take advantage of this dynamic and keep going in the same direction and I hope that's what we'll do."

Garcia admitted Sunday's game would be "special" due to his past at the Valencia club. He led Levante into the top flight in 2010 before leaving the following year.

He said: "For me it's very emotional. The first year I spent there was very difficult but the day we got promoted to the Primera Division was amazing. It will only be beaten if I can win a trophy.

"I wish Levante all the best, apart from in this game. It's going to be special because I'm going to see people I appreciate very much and I know the feeling is reciprocal."

Garcia has defended Juan Ignacio Martinez's side from criticism over their style of play.

"I hear people saying that Levante are very lucky, it's a lie," he said.

"They are the most competitive team in the league and that's a virtue. They play to their strengths and compete as well as they can and always give 100%. Levante take advantage of any circumstance in order to win and their players are always concentrated, up for it and tactically prepared. They have many virtues."

Levante will be without midfielder Jose Barkero, who is suspended, while striker Obafemi Martins is a doubt after missing training on Saturday with a stomach bug.



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