Sevilla putting painful past behind them

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MADRID, Oct 25 (Reuters) Sevilla can confirm their return to form with a third win in a week by overcoming high-fliers Valencia at home in the Primera Liga on Sunday.

The UEFA Cup and King's Cup holders have endured a painful start to the season with the shocking death of Antonio Puerta, followed by a 3-0 pummelling against Arsenal in their Champions League debut last month.

They went on to lose four consecutive league matches, as well as their confidence and vibrant attacking style, while the mourning for Puerta overshadowed every game with acts of remembrance from home fans and opposing teams.

Coach Juande Ramos called for a change in attitude a week ago, with more positive ways of honouring Puerta, and everyone connected with the club has answered his call.

Players acknowledged that the fans' decision to swap their minute's silence during every game for cheering and the chanting of Puerta's name had helped.

''It's the best thing to do because the minute's silence affected us a lot and made us remember those sad moments,'' Brazilian fullback Daniel Alves said.

Sevilla, 11th in the standings, beat Levante 2-0 last weekend and Steaua Bucharest 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Valencia stumbled to a surprise 2-0 defeat to Rosenborg on Wednesday, but lie third in the Primera Liga a point behind leaders Real Madrid.

LATE GOALS Real lost their unbeaten league start away to in-form Espanyol last weekend and needed late goals to see off Olympiakos 4-2 at home yesterday.

They may not be firing on all cylinders, but Bernd Schuster's side will not be expected to drop points in the Bernabeu on Saturday against 16th-placed Deportivo Coruna, who have three defeats from their last four games.

Second-placed Villarreal are brimming with confidence after dispatching Barcelona in impressive style last weekend, and will fancy their chances away to an out-of-sorts Real Zaragoza.

Victor Fernandez's preparations have been disrupted by a fall-out with Argentine midfielder Andres D'Alessandro.

Promoted Almeria travel to the Nou Camp on Sunday where Barcelona are coming to terms with their first league defeat last weekend and a goalless draw away to Rangers in the Champions League during the week.

But Frank Rijkaard's side have a formidable home record where they have scored 12 times in four home league wins.

Bottom club Levante will be seeking their first victory of the season against visitors Atletico Madrid, who hammered Zaragoza 4-0 last time out.

REUTERS TB RK1520

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