Julen Lopetegui in the press room
First team

LOPETEGUI: 'VALENCIA HAVE IMPROVED A LOT SINCE WE LAST PLAYED THEM AWAY FROM HOME'

The coach did not want to speak about the possible arrival of Papu Gómez and wished Carlos Fernández luck in his new team

Julen Lopetegui spoke about tomorrow's opponent in the Copa del Rey Round of 16: 'I expect a tough Valencia. They are a very good team and it's a match that could be the final, and tomorrow is a final itself given the format of the cup. I think they've improved a lot since we played them away, and in that match they did have chances in the first half. They are tactically strong and they will force us to be at our best tomorrow. They have been great in their last two away matches against Valladolid and Atlético. They are a top team and we will have to be prepared.'

Lopetegui stated that Valencia's position in their league does not reflect their ability: 'It's true they should maybe have more points and there's a lot of the season, but the Cup is a different competition with different objectives. Tomorrow's game is even more dangerous by being a cup game, forgetting the quality of the opponent, which is very high. They have some great young players who have mixed well with the more experienced players. We have to be ready for a tough opponent. Their league position isn't representative of their quality and ability. I look at their recent matches and the quality and potential of their squad and manager. Every match is a final in the Cup and it's a Sevilla-Valencia which needs little build up to how important and tough it will be. Nothing else matters.'

Lopetegui does not believe the pitch has any bearing: 'This question is relevant for the league. You no longer have fans at home and that changes everything. It will be a match between two good teams who will try and impose their game. It will be a good setting for the match and that's all it can be.' He also spoke about the team's fitness and how it may affect the starting eleven: 'We will let the players know the line-up tomorrow and we will choose the most appropriate team based on our situation. We do have some physical problems we need to keep in mind and we will make decisions based on how the players feel tomorrow. Some players only took part in a section of training as they haven't been given the full all-clear yet. At the end of the day, the most important players will be those who are fit and ready and those who will help us to try and win.'

'You no longer have fans at home and that changes everything'

Julen did not want to analyse Valencia's injuries: 'Every team has injured players and players out through COVID-19. I'm sure they have good alternatives. They will solve these problems as we resolve ours. They will put out a competitive eleven fit for the difficulty of the match.' He also did not think the team would have Miranda in mind: 'It's a new year and we don't look back. That has nothing to do with tomorrow. We are only focussed on the difficulty of tomorrow.'

Lopetegui stated he would not speak Papu Gómez until any official announcement, but he did want to wish Carlos Fernández the best of luck: 'He had some injuries, he got COVID-19... He wasn't able to be in the team as much. He wanted to look for pastures new. He's a smart guy, he's great and we wish him the very best of luck.' To finish, he spoke about how competitive Valencia have been in past years: 'This rivalry we have comes from the competitiveness between the two teams. They have always been up there fighting for the highest honours. But we don't think about that, we focus on the sole match tomorrow.'

Communication Department