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Rubi: 'We have the hope of being able to finish the first half of the season with 22 points'

The UD Almería head coach points out that his players are eager to clinch the first away win of the campaign and feel stronger at home. He also praises RCD Espanyol and their gaffer.

'We have the hope of being able to finish the first half of the season with 22 points, something that would be really beautiful and essential,' explained UD Almería head coach Rubi at the pre-Espanyol press conference. Friday's fixture against RCD Espanyol de Barcelona kicks off at 9pm (CET) at the Power Horse Stadium. After that, the competition reaches the halfway point of the campaign and the main objective now is to start the reverse fixtures having already added half of the points that are generally needed to stay up.

Rubi faces the club in which he spent the longest time as a head coach apart from his hometown's team, as he mentioned, and therefore, it will be a special meeting for him. But nostalgia aside, he made it clear: 'We'll have to compete and work properly if we want to succeed because it'll be tough,' and as he argued 'we're facing opponents who are enjoying a good run of results and come after picking up the last six points.They've been able to draw with Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​and win over Athletic de Bilbao, but we're not afraid and we're going to go all out.'

When highlighting the Blanquiazules' strengths, Rubi commented 'they never give up no matter what happens in the game, they fight to death throughout the full 90 minutes, a characteristic that their gaffer conveys.' He then added 'either they may not give you a chance and suddenly, they score three.'

On an individual level, their squad is formed by talented players with the likes of 'Joselu, who is having a scintillating season; Darder, Puado, Wraithwaite… We'll have to be focused squarely on the match.' On that note, the UD Almería head coach also praised RCD Espanyol de Barcelona head coach Diego Martínez: 'He's accomplished an extraordinary feat in helping a second-tier team move up to the Spanish top-tier and participate in European competitions and then, place them in 9th position too. As I see it, this is more praiseworthy than winning a title.'

UD Almería did not have much time to prepare for Friday's home game; in fact, the Rojiblancos played away to Valencia CF last Monday. On this subject, he stressed 'except for one of those who started at Mestalla, I've seen the others well recovered without any serious injury concerns.' Moreover, Rubi stressed 'although we haven't won yet in 2023, the players are convinced and proud of having competed well. We're looking forward to winning again and feeling strong at home in terms of image and results.'

When asked about the second January signing of keeper Diego Mariño, the Vilassar de Mar native replied 'He's a well-known, agile, fast goalkeeper. He's been one of the most experienced and outstanding goalies in Segunda Division for many years and he also has a background in Primera Division. He will provide us with those abilities to be calm as far as the goal is concerned.'