Valencia manager Mauricio Pellegrino believes that facing Atletico Madrid this weekend is a great opportunity for his players to show that they can still be the third force in Spanish football come the end of the season.
Los Che have finished third for the past three seasons but are already a massive 14 points behind Atleti after their flying start to the campaign and Pellegrino knows how hard it will be to end their 23-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
He told a press conference broadcast on the club's website: ``They are on a very good run and it is not by chance. It is the fruit of the work of a team and not of just one player. They will be a very strong opponent and a great test for us. It is premature to speak of the end of the season when we are only in the 10th game, but at the end one finishes where they deserve.''
However, the former Argentina international did have special praise for the remarkable goalscoring feats of Radamel Falcao who has scored 17 times in his last 11 games for club and country.
``We know Falcao from the Argentinean league. He has surprised us a lot with his evolution. He is determinant for them and is improving every year,'' he said.
Sofiane Feghouli returns for the hosts after serving a three-match ban, but Jeremy Mathieu and Pablo Piatti are still sidelined through injury.
Atletico manager Diego Simeone, meanwhile, thinks that Valencia's need to close the gap on them will only make one of his side's toughest games of the season even more difficult, but he also believes Atleti are now receiving greater respect from their opponents.
He told the club's website: ``We are going to face a great rival that is in need with obligations by their history, by how they have done in the last couple of years, by their coach and by the capacity of the players they have to do well.
``We understand that every match demands a lot from us, we have to make a great effort to do what we are doing and the absolute value of this squad is to be able to compete in the same way and the same manner no matter who plays. Without doubt now the opponents are looking at us in a different way.''
Simeone has no injury worries to cope with and will revert to the line-up that started the 3-1 win over Osasuna last weekend after resting a host of players for their 3-0 victory against Rael Jaen in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.