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Jan 23, 2006

Valencia look to overcome Depor in King's Cup

MADRID, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Valencia believe they can overturn a 1-0 deficit against Deportivo Coruna in the second leg of their King's Cup quarter-final on Wednesday and go on to reach the final.

'We are starting with a disadvantage and will have to play very well to progress,' coach Quique Sanchez Flores told Valencia's website.

'We will really go for it though because this side believe they can make it to the final, and really want to win it.'

Ten-man Depor claimed a 1-0 first-leg victory at home last week when Sergio converted a penalty 11 minutes from time.

Valencia continued their impressive form in the league on Sunday, beating Real Betis 2-0. The victory moved them up to second in the Primera Liga, 10 points behind Barcelona, after a run of nine league games without defeat.

Sanchez Flores added: 'We can always improve. Our objective is to continue developing and to see where our limits are.'

Depor have struggled of late, losing to bottom club Alaves and Osasuna before letting slip a two-goal lead against lowly Real Mallorca on Sunday, to draw 2-2 at home.

They received a further blow to morale after that game with the news that playmaker Juan Carlos Valeron has been ruled out for up to eight months with a knee ligament injury.

REAL IMPROVING

Real Madrid hold the upper hand against holders Betis, taking a 1-0 lead into their second leg in the Bernabeu.

Italy striker Antonio Cassano scored on his debut last week, while Real showed further signs of improvement with a 3-1 win over Cadiz in the Primera Liga on Saturday.

Real, who are fourth in the standings, are now unbeaten in their last six league and cup outings.

Espanyol, who were thumped 5-0 by Getafe on Sunday, have a 2-0 lead and home advantage over Cadiz.

On Thursday, Barcelona play the first leg of their delayed quarter-final match away at 2004 Cup winners Real Zaragoza.

The league leaders laboured to break down a stubborn Alaves on Sunday, but did not appear to miss leading scorer Samuel Eto'o, who is at the African Nations Cup with Cameroon.

Sweden striker Henrik Larsson and Argentine forward Lionel Messi scored to make it 18 games unbeaten in all competitions for the champions.

Zaragoza's impressive recent run ground to a halt on Saturday as they fell 2-0 at home to Atletico Madrid, who they had knocked out of the Cup last week.