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By ESPN Staff
Sep 26, 2006

Valencia's Ayala hoping to stop Roma's Totti

MADRID, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Stifling AS Roma striker Francesco Totti is crucial to Valencia's chances of success in their Champions League match on Wednesday, the Spanish team's defender Roberto Ayala said.

'Roma rely on Totti's creativity. Although they have a good team behind him, if you neutralise his influence you are much closer towards securing a win,' the Argentine told a news conference on Tuesday.

'They have players with a lot of quality, and look to pressure you in midfield, but base their play on Totti's inventiveness.'

Ayala has first hand experience of how effective the Italy striker can be, after facing him in the 3-0 home defeat by Roma in the Champions League in February 2003.

Totti netted twice that night to help bring to an end a 20-match unbeaten run for Valencia in the Mestalla.

'I remember that game, but don't like to dwell on past successes or failures. We need to focus on winning and if we do we can safely say we have got that result out of our system,' Ayala added.

'Thanks to the efforts of the club we now have a good enough squad to compete in three competitions, and to be key players in all of them.'

One of Valencia's main close-season signings was former Real Betis winger Joaquin, who misses the encounter serving the second game of a two-match suspension from last year.

Defenders Asier del Horno and Carlos Marchena and midfielder Ruben Baraja are injured.

Valencia won their opening Group D game 4-2 away to Olympiakos Piraeus, thanks to a hat-trick from another new recruit, striker Fernando Morientes.

Roma top the group after sweeping aside Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 two weeks ago.