Valverde urges Valencia to focus on Malaga

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde says his players must try and just concentrate on beating Champions League rivals Malaga at the Mestalla on Saturday.

Jonas, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Valencia

Los Che, who all season have been plagued by stories relating to their financial problems, have experienced a particularly turbulent fortnight, with Manuel Llorente, president since 2009, resigning early last week.

His departure was followed by that of Federico Varona, president of the Valencia Foundation which part owns the club, who quit the post on Tuesday, less than two weeks after accepting it.

The timing has been less than ideal for the team ahead of the visit of Malaga, with whom they are level on 50 points with in the Primera Division.

Valencia have qualified for the Champions League for the past three years and doing so again next season is more important than ever, in light of their financial problems.

Valverde told a press conference: "It's difficult to distance yourself from what is going on off the pitch at times like these.

"We don't know what is going to happen next week, people are expecting different things each week, but right now we are Valencia and the reality is that the most important thing is the match on Saturday.

"The match is vitally important. We are level on points with Malaga and the matches are starting to become decisive because of the quality of the opposition and because the margins are getting slimmer with each week. Winning is very important, because it would take us three points clear of Malaga."

He added: "At the end of the day, we are no experts on social situations. We are paid to get the best results possible on the pitch."

Returning to talk of the match, Valverde revealed that Diego Alves would replace Vicente Guaita in goal, while David Albelda would come in for Tino Costa, who started ahead of the veteran midfielder in last weekend's 3-3 draw with Espanyol but was substituted at half-time with an ankle sprain.

Sergio Canales has been carrying a light injury since that match, but Valverde expects him to be able to play against Malaga. Defender Ricardo Costa, meanwhile, is suspended.

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini played down the significance of Valencia's off-the-field problems and said he did not think it would affect their performance during the match.

"Valencia are one of the greatest teams in Spanish football, regardless of their internal problems," the Malaga coach told reporters.

"I don't think they'll be distracted from their sporting duties and I hope we see an on-form Malaga.

"The Mestalla crowd have always demanded a lot from their team and if we focus on the football, outside factors will not have much of an effect."

And he admitted that not everything was well at his own club.

"The club should be working towards the next season, it's in an uncomfortable situation, with many players about to finish their contracts. The club needs to work with the same needs of other clubs that are good at planning their teams," he said.

Midfielders Pedro Morales and Jeremy Toulalan will both miss the game due to injury, while Sebastian Fernandez has been left out of the squad.

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