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UEFA Champions: Valencia vs. Schalke

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Valencia is set to host Schalke at Estadi Di Mestalla, Valencia, in the first leg of a last 16 encounter, in the UEFA Champions League, on Tuesday, February 15, 2011. The match between Valencia and Schalke is scheduled to kick off at 19:45 GMT.
Valencia has done affably well this season and is looking as favorites to pick up this tie as well. They have also reached the UEFA Champions League Finals 2 years in a row back in 2000 and 2001. With most players in quite a reasonable form, Valencia CF looks to be heading forward in the Champions League this year.
Valencia could have done a lot worse in the draw and they should be confident of defeating Schalke and threading their way into the quarter-finals. They have a very strong midfield, both defensively and in the attacking sense, which will be an asset especially as at the moment, other than Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz, the former Spanish champions do not have a definitive striker.

While playing at the Mestalla in the first leg will be a disadvantage, Valencia has not lost away from home in the Champions League as of yet this season.

The two sides met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2007-08. At the time Valencia finished bottom while Schalke progressed to the second round. However, the Spanish side actually won in Germany, thanks to a David Villa goal and was held to a goalless draw at home. Things have changed immensely since then.

Ever Banega will be a key player for Valencia. He is as complete a midfielder as one can get and although he hasn't been in the best of form this campaign and has struggled with injuries, the Argentine could be the one to enforce Valencia in the middle of the park come February.
Schalke on the other hand, comprised of young and very talented players haven’t shown much improvement this season. But determined performances from expert players like Raul and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar keep the team and players highly encouraged. All in all it is most likely going to be a very tough match-up.
Before the draw, Goal.com mentioned that Schalke could struggle against strong attacking opposition, and they got just that in Valencia. Having scored fifteen goals and allowed just four in Group C, the Spanish side will be difficult to overcome, and Schalke will enter the match as underdogs.

With that having been said, Valencia is a manageable opponent, provided Schalke finds their very best form in January. Domestic woes may actually help the German side, who will have just four days off before returning to training on December 27, a week before most other Bundesliga clubs. Schalke have kept clean sheets in three of their last four domestic matches, and two of those thwarted opponents were known for their attacking ability; by February, Felix Magath just might be able to gain the defensive consistency his team so sorely needs.

But to see facts, the tougher team always wins, and Valencia CF has the upper hand in this game.