Former Real Mallorca coach Hector Cuper will expect a warmer welcome when he brings his Valencia team into the Son Moix stadium tonight than he has recently been receiving at his home ground of Mestalla. The wily Argentine will forever be held close to the hearts of Mallorca fans after he led the team to their highest ever league position and a place in the Cup Winners' Cup final just two seasons ago. But things are different at Valencia, and although Cuper's outstanding tactical nous guided an exciting Valencia team into the final of the European Cup in his first season in charge the fans have recently got on his back after three straight loses. The fact that Valencia play some nice football, have some of Europe's finest players, Gaizka Mendieta to name just one, sit comfortably in the Champions League, and are currently in fourth position in the Spanish League does not deter the fans from chastising Cuper. The 45 year-old, voted UEFA Coach of the Year last season, has stemmed some of the criticism by signing young Argentine international Pablo Aimar who could make an appearance at Son Moix tonight. Cuper, who called Mallorca “one of the league's three best teams”, pinpointed Ariel Ibagaza's intelligence and Samuel Eto'o physical presence as the team's strengths. Luis Aragones Mallorca team, who have lost once at home all season, will be missing this year's revelation Marcos in midfield through suspension. “Chi Chi” Soler is handed the responsibility of keeping fellow midfielder Vicente Engonga company in Marcos' absence. Cuper's little Argentine protégé Ibagaza looks set to start after an injury scare mid-week and should sit behind the front two of Albert Luque and the multi-talented Eto'o.

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