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New-look Valencia threaten La Liga elite

06 March 2015, 16:20

Barcelona - Quietly and efficiently Valencia are building up steam under new owner Peter Lim and on Sunday face champions Atletico Madrid ready to fight for third place in La Liga.

Valencia are a new-look side thanks to the investment of Singapore billionaire Lim and, through solid displays rather than dashing football, they are on course to complete their aim of qualifying for the Champions League.

Also read: Barca's Busquets out of Rayo clash

Atletico drew 0-0 with Sevilla last weekend to leave Valencia, who won 2-0 at Real Sociedad, just one point behind on 53 ahead of their showdown at the Calderon.

Under pragmatic coach Nuno Espirito Santo, they have concentrated on building from the back with Nicolas Otamendi and Shkodran Mustafi providing a formidable centre-half pairing.

Youth product Jose Luis Gaya has established himself as one of the top left backs in La Liga and their defence is the second meanest in the top flight behind Barcelona, having conceded just 21 goals.

In attack Alvaro Negredo was their marquee signing from Manchester City and he is now starting to deliver after a slow start hampered by injury.

"Our concept of playing is clear for everyone to see. We are the team which runs most and wins back most balls in the opposition half," Nuno told Marca.

"(My dream) is to see Valencia competing with the best clubs in the world. To be in the elite."

Before Lim's arrival, Valencia were a debt-ridden club who sold their best players, but are now building for the future.

"They (the players) have been able to overcome the problematic situation that the club was in before and I find myself with a team that is completely willing and with a lot of drive," Nuno said.

"All I do is challenge the players to push themselves to their limit."

Lim, who was linked with other clubs including Atletico Madrid prior to buying Valencia, has always sought to keep himself out of the limelight.

"He is someone who knows a lot about football," Nuno said.

"He watches a lot of football including all Valencia's matches even though they are at crazy times for him in his country. He enjoys them and has his opinions."

Lim hopes to build a team capable of winning the Champions League and Nuno says the future is bright.

"We have the youngest squad in the league who haven't yet realised their potential and this gives me a lot of optimism."

- Reuters


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