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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 7, 2007

Valencia face prospect of premature exit

MADRID, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Last season Valencia got further than any other Spanish team in the Champions League, only exiting the competition at the quarter-final stage after a last-gasp defeat by Chelsea.

This season the Spaniards face the prospect of a premature departure in the group phase after back-to-back defeats by unfancied Rosenborg.

Valencia are bottom of Group B with just three points, one behind Schalke 04, four down on Rosenborg and five adrift of leaders Chelsea with two games left to play.

The club's decision to sack coach Quique Sanchez Flores after the first defeat by the Norwegians and a 3-0 loss to Sevilla in the league appears to have backfired spectacularly.

Valencia were demolished 5-1 by Real Madrid last week and although they managed to win 2-0 at Real Mallorca on Saturday they were overwhelmed by Rosenborg on Tuesday.

Rosenborg coach Trond Henriksen branded the Spaniards 'timid and rather cowardly' in their approach to the game, adding they 'lacked courage' while their defence looked completely shorn of confidence.

These are accusations that would never have been levelled at a Valencia side in recent years and show just how much work new coach Ronald Koeman has to do at the club.

'We appear to have a mental problem at home,' said the Dutchman. 'We have to improve a lot of things if we want to get back to where we want to be. There is time, but the situation is difficult.'

Captain David Albelda said it was difficult to find an explanation for the team's loss of form.

'There is no logic to it, no obvious reason,' he told reporters. 'The team is trying hard but we aren't playing well especially at home. Our heads drop every time we receive a setback like when Rosenborg scored against us.

'It's a very tricky situation and not just because of this defeat. This is another heavy blow for us and it is sad to have so few options of qualifying with two matches left to play.

'But we've got no option other than to keep working hard until the end.'