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Marcelino: Valencia must be clever to see off Barca

Barcelona hold a 1-0 lead heading into Thursday night’s second leg.

Marcelino knows Valencia face a tough task
Marcelino knows Valencia face a tough task

Marcelino has urged Valencia to play with their heads as well as their hearts as they attempt to edge past Barcelona into the Copa del Rey final.

The sides meet in the second leg of their semi-final showdown at the Mestalla on Thursday evening with Barca carrying a 1-0 lead into the game courtesy of Luis Suarez’s lone strike at the Nou Camp last week.

Coach Marcelino knows the hosts are up against it if they are to beat the Catalan giants, who last lost in Valencia in March 2008, but is confident they have what it takes to push the runaway LaLiga leaders all the way.

He told Valencia’s official website: “We are expecting a long game, a very tough game, and hopefully after the 90 minutes we will be able to say that we are in a Copa del Rey final.

“Emotionally, it is going to be an intense game, but we need to play with our heads and our hearts. We have to be clever. If we don’t defend well, we won’t go through. I am asking the fans to help us defend.

“We should be humble because we know that we don’t have a team that can dominate Barcelona for 90 minutes. Our plan is to defend well, but to attack better than in the first leg and get into the final stages with the possibility of going through.

“I prefer to avoid extra-time.”

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Valencia will run out having lost each of their last five games in all competitions, one of them a 2-1 defeat at Alaves in the last round, although they ultimately prevailed on penalties.

By contrast, Ernesto Valverde’s side will arrive having lost only once in 35 games in all competitions since being beaten in both legs of their Spanish Super Cup clash with Real Madrid in August.

However, they needed a late equaliser from defender Gerard Pique to spare their blushes against derby rivals Espanyol – the only team to have beaten them in the meantime – in the league on Sunday.

Lionel Messi was used only as a second-half substitute at the weekend as Valverde made six changes, and Marcelino interpreted that as an indication of Barca’s focus on the cup-tie.

He said: “This shows that Barca want to get to a final and not throw the game away, and also that they respect us a lot.”

Valverde is expecting a more progressive approach from Valencia on their own pitch and admits his team is unlikely to be able to rely on its slim advantage alone to progress.

He told a press conference: “Each team will be loyal to its style, but Valencia will try to be more aggressive in attack because of the result from the first leg. Both teams will go for it.

“Taking into account the attacking potential of Valencia, more so playing in Mestalla, I have the feeling that to get through, we will have to score.”

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