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Football | Spain

Pablo Piatti and Cristiano Ronaldo © Action Images

Valencia seek revenge against Real



Valencia have the chance to take revenge on Real Madrid for a controversial midweek cup defeat when the two sides meet again in the league on Sunday.

Ernesto Valverde's team dominated the cup match Tuesday and created the better chances - but still slunk off as 2-0 losers after some strange refereeing decisions.

"Real were putting pressure on the referee all week, and just look what happened," said Valencia captain Roberto Soldado, who was wrongly blown up for offside four times when closing in on the Real goal. .

"They (the match officials) were so worried about damaging a big club that they ended up damaging us."

Valencia had two good penalty claims turned down, and Real's second goal should have been disallowed for handball by striker Gonzalo Higuain.

"Whenever we go there (to the Estadio Bernabeu) something happens with the referee, it's like fighting against the elements," Valencia president Manuel Llorente said.

"Let's hope there are no refereeing mistakes on Sunday, and that the best team wins."

Valencia have moved up to seventh under new coach Ernesto Valverde. They are seven points behind Real, who are third.

Jose Mourinho's team are still without key defenders Pepe and Sergio Ramos, but they can now count on left-back Marcelo and striker Gonzalo Higuain.

Real visit Valencia on Sunday for the league match and play there again on Wednesday for the cup quarterfinal return leg.

Real are seven points behind neighbours Atletico, who are second. Atletico receive Levante on Sunday.

Atletico are a massive 11 points behind record-breaking leaders Barcelona, who will be trying to get back to winning ways on Saturday at Real Sociedad after being held 2-2 in the cup on Wednesday at home by lively Malaga.

Barca, who dropped just two points in the first half of their league campaign, are hoping to welcome back veteran striker David Villa after a pulled muscle.

Also on Saturday, Granada face Rayo Vallecano, Getafe receive Sevilla and Malaga play Celta Vigo.

Sunday's games, in addition to the Atletico-Levante and Valencia-Real clashes, are Osasuna v Deportivo Coruna and Valladolid v Zaragoza.

The second half of the league campaign kicks off on Friday with what promises to be an intense relegation clash between Espanyol and Mallorca. The 20th round ends on Monday with fourth-placed Real Betis at home to struggling Athletic Bilbao.

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