Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Neville seeking first win in Copa short on shocks


Valencia head coach Gary Neville laughs before the start of his side’s UEFA Champions League Group H match against Olympique Lyonnais at the Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, on Wednesday last week.

Photo: AP

Gary Neville has a great chance to seal his first win as Valencia boss at the third attempt when Los Che host third-tier Barakaldo at the Mestalla today.

Valencia already lead the Basques 3-1 from the first leg before Neville’s appointment two weeks ago.

Real Madrid’s expulsion from the competition for fielding an ineligible player against Cadiz could open the door for a winner outside Spanish soccer’s dominant top three of Real, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for the first time since 2009-2010 and Neville has targeted winning either the Copa del Rey or the UEFA Europa League as one of his prime targets in his short stint at Valencia between now and the end of the season.

“Valencia have to win trophies,” Neville told the club’s Web site. “The players have to experience the medal round their neck to give them confidence and belief.”

Holders Barcelona have already assured their place in the round-of-16 with a 6-1 thrashing of Villanovense and, aside from Real Madrid’s monumental error in fielding Russia international Denis Cheryshev when he was suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards last season, there was little drama in the fourth round first legs, as almost all of La Liga’s big guns look on course to progress.

Atletico Madrid moved joint top of La Liga with an eighth consecutive victory in all competitions against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend and should make it nine when Reus Deportiu visit the Vicente Calderon.

Diego Simeone’s men hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg, despite naming a much-changed side and a number of fringe players are likely to get another chance to impress tomorrow.

Villarreal are one of the few top sides with work to do as they seek to overturn a 3-2 first-leg deficit when they host second-tier SD Huesca fresh from beating Real Madrid.

La Liga strugglers Granada and Malaga trail CD Leganes and CD Mirandes 2-1 respectively, and despite their great start to the league season, Sociedad Deportiva Eibar have an even more difficult task as they trail Sociedad Deportiva Ponferradina 3-0.

Meanwhile, last season’s beaten finalists Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, RC Celta de Vigo and RC Deportivo de la Coruna are all well set to progress as they hold comfortable leads against lower-league opposition with the home leg to come.

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