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Malaga face tough Mestalla mission

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Malaga are battling against history as they travel to Valencia on Friday night looking to record their best start to a Primera Division season in over a decade.

Malaga have not started a top-flight campaign with back-to-back wins since 2002, but after claiming an impressive 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao last Saturday, that is their goal heading to Valencia.

However, to achieve that they will have to do something no Malaga side has managed since the club was reformed in the mid-1990s - win at the Mestalla.

In 13 Primera Division visits to Valencia's home ground, Malaga have lost 10 times and drawn the other three.

Indeed, even under their former guise as CD Malaga, the club have only ever won once at the Mestalla, and that was back in the 1954-55 season.

New Malaga coach Javi Gracia, who replaced Bernd Schuster this summer, is well aware of the task facing his side but is nevertheless hoping to return with a positive result.

He said: "I know the merit of defeating Athletic. We need to make the most of these good feelings in Valencia. We've got a chance to win our first two matches of the season, which isn't often easy.

"We've not had a good track record at this ground, but we'll try our best to come home with a good result."

He added: "Historically Valencia has always been a club with a strong team made up of quality players, with a lot of experience and potential, making them difficult to beat.

"We try to look at each game and pinpoint a rival's strengths and weaknesses. They've changed the team somewhat, but are still a very dangerous side, hard-working, quick on the wings and with a solid attack.

"We need to stay alert as they are a well-armed team."

Valencia started their own campaign with a creditable 1-1 draw at Europa League champions Sevilla.

Los Che had to do it the hard way, going a goal down in the 44th minute and then losing summer signing Rodrigo de Paul to a red card just seconds after his second-half introduction, but salvaged a point through Lucas Orban's 88th-minute equaliser.

Valencia will now look to pick up their first victory of the campaign in a match which will see their new coach, Nuno, come up against one of his former employers.

The 40-year-old, who was goalkeeping coach at La Rosaleda in 2010, said: "Throughout his career a coach is always going to face clubs that he's been at and this changes nothing, tomorrow I will see them as a rival.

"There's people at Malaga who I think highly of and I had good times there, but tomorrow they are my opponents."


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