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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Valencia look to turn the corner against Osasuna

MADRID, Dec 6 (Reuters) - After suffering an alarming loss of form in recent weeks, Ronald Koeman's Valencia are out to prove they have turned the corner when they travel to Osasuna on Saturday (kickoff 1900 GMT).

The Mediterranean side slipped to a fifth league defeat in eight outings when they went down 3-0 against Athletic Bilbao last weekend, the first time they have lost at home to the Basque side in 20 years.

The humiliating defeat prompted Koeman to say the team had hit rock bottom and needed an immediate change of attitude if they were not to suffer further setbacks.

Midfielder Joaquin believes that the Dutchman's rebuke and the discussion of a few home truths during a crisis meeting on Monday will help to spark a recovery.

'We've talked about everything that is going wrong and said some things that needed to be said but it will all remain within the dressing room,' the Spain international said this week.

'Now we have to put the negative stuff behind us, concentrate on the positive and put it into practice on the pitch. We've still got time to sort things out.'

Despite their poor run, Valencia are still in sixth place in the table, eight points behind leaders Real Madrid.

For Joaquin's former club Real Betis, however, the situation is critical.

The Andalucians sacked coach Hector Cuper after a 2-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid on Sunday - their fourth loss in five matches - left them mired in the relegation zone, four points from safety.

Reserve team boss Paco Chaparro has been drafted in to set things straight again in the club's fourth change of coach in a little over a year and he faces a daunting first game away to high-flying Villarreal on Sunday (1600).

'The first thing we have to do is to rebuild team morale,' said Chaparro. 'After such a bad run, things can only get better.'

Confidence is certainly not in short supply at leaders Real Madrid.

Bernd Schuster's side maintained their 100 percent record at home with a 3-1 win over Racing Santander but they are likely to find it harder going when they travel to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday (2100).

Barcelona, who are four points behind Real in second place, are hoping striker Samuel Eto'o will be able to make his first appearance of the season in Sunday's match at home to Deportivo Coruna (2000) following a three-month layoff with a thigh injury.