Atletico v Valencia preview

Jordi Alba insists Valencia will not be thinking about their 2010 Europa League defeat to Atletico Madrid when they meet again on Thursday.

Last Updated: 18/04/12 at 14:05

Albi: Feeling confident

Albi: Feeling confident

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Valencia were sent crashing out at the quarter-final stage two years ago when, after being held 2-2 at home in the first meeting, they were unable to find the breakthrough in a goalless second leg in Madrid.

However, Los Che were left fuming after being denied an 86th-minute penalty for an apparent foul on striker Nikola Zigic, who looked to have been pulled back by Atletico defender Juanito five yards from goal as he tried to get on the end of a cross at the far post.

Virtually every Valencia player immediately appealed to referee Florian Meyer for the foul while coach Unai Emery ended up being red-carded for his protests, but the visiting side's pleas fell on deaf ears as play was waved on and, while Los Che bid farewell to the competition, Atletico would go on to lift the trophy by beating Fulham in the final.

Asked ahead of Thursday's semi-final first leg at the Vicente Calderon if they still angry about that decision, Alba told AS: "Our fans and the players who played in that game have not forgotten, it was a decision which saw us knocked out unfairly. But we shouldn't be looking at this as revenge, but of having a good game and doing our best."

Valencia head into Thursday's match on the back of an inconsistent run of form which has seen them lose four of their last eight competitive matches while winning just twice.

On Sunday they were hammered 4-0 by Espanyol, but despite that loss Alba insists the mood in the camp is good.

"We are motivated and ready to make a fresh start. Now's the time to show what we can do. It (the Espanyol game) was an accident, and we are now 180 minutes from a final, something neither I or many of my team-mates have experienced. That has to serve as a motivation," the highly-rated full-back said.

Valencia still managed to hold on to third place in the Primera Division standings even after that Espanyol mauling, with the three teams immediately below them all dropping points as well.

That allowed eighth-placed Atletico to move to within one point of the European places with their 1-0 derby victory over Rayo Vallecano, and they are now only seven points adrift of stuttering Valencia with five games remaining.

Atletico winger Eduardo Salvio remains optimistic his side can achieve their objective of getting into the Champions League, but his focus is now on getting through to the Europa League final - something he admits will not be easy against Valencia.

"They are one of the best teams in Spain and a European great," he said. "They are a very tough opponent for us in this Europa League, but we are for them as well. I think it will be a very even tie and we are going to have to do a good job to get a good lead to take to Valencia.

"The important thing will be to win and keep a clean sheet."

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