There's life after Villa as Valencia head for Barça

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The Independent Football

The two-horse race widely predicted in Spain has been gatecrashed by leaders Valencia, and Unai Emery takes his side to the Nou Camp tonight, where Barcelona's form this season has been unconvincing.

Valencia have dropped just two points so far and are showing no signs of missing the man they face this evening, David Villa. Barça were beaten in their first home game against newly-promoted Hercules and, after narrowly beating Sporting Gijon, they could only draw 1-1 with Mallorca.

The leaders are boosted by a newly laid surface, the possible return of several key players and the goalscoring omens that favour their strikers. Villa, who has a habit of scoring against former teams, has promised he will not celebrate if he gets a goal against the team who, he said this week, "helped make him as a player". The former Mestalla favourite scored six times in 10 games against former clubs, Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon, while a Valencia player.

Mourinho calls off hunt for striker

"I do not want any players." Jose Mourinho could not have been clearer ahead of Real Madrid's trip to Malaga. "I want to finish the season with the players I started with," said the Portuguese coach who faces his compatriot Jesualdo Ferreira, the Malaga coach, tonight.

Real Madrid were rumoured to be after a striker and Mourinho made a startling comparison between Gonzalo Higuain and Didier Drogba this week when he said Drogba would win "10 out of 10 long balls forward and Higuain one in 10". But it seems any addition to his strikeforce will have to wait until the end of the season, although he joked yesterday when asked if his desire for no new additions extended to next season: "Who knows, maybe they will get rid of me before then."

Malaga are joint top-scorers in La Liga with 12 goals, but a leaky defence has seen them concede as many as they have scored and they are without a win at home.

Galliani: Kaka coming back unlikely

Fourth-placed Milan face Chievo in fifth in Serie A tonight, with vice-president Adriano Galliani telling fans it would be difficult for them to re-sign Brazilian playmaker Kaka.

Milan tackle Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and with Real's new signing the Germany international Mesut Ozil performing well in his position, Kaka – who should be fit again by the turn of the year following knee surgery – would struggle to get back into the team. Galliani said: "It would be difficult for us to sign him again; it was only a year ago that we sold him."

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