Sanchez: High-flying Valencia must focus

MADRID - Valencia should not get carried away with their strong start to the season and must be fully focused when they host Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday, goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez said on Monday.

The financially-troubled Spanish club were forced to sell prize assets David Villa and David Silva in the close season and the consensus was that they would be unable to match their third-place finish in La Liga last term.

However, new strikers Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz have settled well and pacy attacking midfielders Juan Mata and Pablo Hernandez have been in sparkling form to help Unai Emery's side to the top of the domestic standings after five matches.

Valencia kicked off their Champions League campaign with an impressive Group C win over Bursaspor, thumping the Turkish champions 4-0 away as United stuttered to a 0-0 home draw with Scottish side Rangers.

"Being top of the (Spanish) league is always nice but at this level it's irrelevant," Sanchez said on Valencia's website (

"We are on a very good run, all members of the squad feel very useful and the big beneficiary is the group but we still haven't won anything," the former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur player added.

"September is not even over yet and there is a long way still to go to reach our objectives.

"We mustn't let ourselves be distracted by anything that could stop us coming out for our next match on peak form."


Valencia warmed up for Wednesday's clash at the Mestalla with a 2-0 league win at Sporting Gijon, Turkish midfielder Mehmet Topal and Soldado scoring the goals.

United twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers and striker Wayne Rooney and midfielder Ryan Giggs suffered ankle and hamstring injuries which will rule them out of the Valencia trip.

Ferguson did not include central defender Rio Ferdinand in the squad for the Bolton game, but he could feature against Valencia as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

His return may help the 2008 winners iron out the weaknesses that have blighted recent matches and prompted Ferdinand's defensive partner Nemanja Vidic to admit they were concerned about the number of goals they were leaking.

"Over the last few years we haven't conceded many goals," he told MUTV.

"We always looked strong and we didn't give teams many chances. But in the last few away games we haven't kept clean sheets, which is very disappointing."

Probable teams:

Valencia: 1-Cesar Sanchez; 2-Bruno Saltor, 20-Ricardo Costa, 4-David Navarro, 28-Jordi Alba; 19-Pablo Hernandez, 5-Mehmet Topal, 18-Manuel Fernandes, 10-Juan Mata; 11-Aritz Aduriz, 9-Roberto Soldado.

Manchester United: 1-Edwin van der Sar; 3-Patrice Evra, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 22-John O'Shea; 24-Darren Fletcher, 18-Paul Scholes, 13-Park ji-Sung, 8-Anderson, 17-Nani; 9-Dimitar Berbatov.

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