Valencia warmed up for Wednesday’s Champions League duel with Manchester United with a 2-0 win at Sporting Gijon on Saturday to replace Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish top flight.
Two goals in the first 10 minutes did the trick for Valencia, with Turkish midfielder Mehmet Topal and Spanish international forward Roberto Soldado both scoring their first league goals in the club’s colours.
Valencia move three points ahead of Real at the summit, but Jose Mourinho’s side can reclaim top spot with a win at promoted Levante later on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Topal, a five-million-euro recruit from Galatasaray, struck on seven minutes when he headed in from a corner and three minutes later Soldado got a second after a great cross from winger Juan Mata.
It was a first league goal for Soldado following his 10-million-euro switch from Getafe in the summer and he owed a lot to Mata, who came through the youth ranks with him at Real Madrid before the duo were both let go.
Unbeaten Valencia have started with 13 points from a possible 15 in the league and their next challenge is on Wednesday when they host Manchester United in the Champions League.
Valencia defeated Bursaspor 4-0 in their Champions League group opener.
Real can nudge Valencia off the top with victory at Levante, but Mourinho said this week that his players are tired as they face up to a fifth game in 14 days.
The Portuguese coach also began the early season mind game with arch rivals Barcelona by saying opponents gave up too easily against the champions.
“If there are teams that gift games to Barcelona, it’s going to be a lot harder for us to win the league,” Mourinho said.
“We are going to need a lot of points to win the league and if, on top of that, there are some teams that are going to put out their second team when they think they are not going to win, we will need even more.”
Barcelona, a point behind Real, have a tough trip to Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday as they look for a third successive away win in the league.
Bilbao drew 1-1 with Barcelona at San Mames last season and Barca coach Pep Guardiola is well aware of their physical presence.
“They are a strong side,” said Guardiola. “It does not matter if you have a lot of tall players or not in San Mames because they dominate anyway.
“They know how to play well using direct tactics, but they also know how to battle when required.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!