BARCELONA, Spain (AP):Rafa BenÌtez held on to his job last year but faces another tough test of his coaching credentials tomorrow when Real Madrid visit Valencia for their first Spanish league game of 2016.BenÌtez has been the focus of criticism from disgruntled fans for Madrid’s unpredictable campaign, which has included a lopsided loss to fierce rivals Barcelona and their embarrassing disqualification from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player.Madrid travel to Mestalla Stadium after two easy victories at their own Santiago BernabÈu home that failed to win over their most sceptical supporters, some of whom jeered BenÌtez.Madrid defender Pepe has called for calm.”We have to let our coach continue to improve,” Pepe said. “If a new manager came, we’d have to adapt to new systems and that isn’t good. We should save the evaluations for the end of the season.”Madrid have struggled on the road this season, dropping points on four of eight of their outings. Their last away game ended in a 1-0 loss at Villarreal.Madrid are in third place, two points behind Barcelona and AtlÈtico Madrid. Defending champions Barcelona have played one less game than their rivals.BenÌtez’s counterpart tomorrow is also in need of a victory.Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville’s coaching debut has got off to an uninspiring start.Valencia have only beaten a third-division side in the Copa del Rey since he took over. Otherwise, the team has recorded a pair of draws and two losses, including a poor showing in a 1-0 league defeat at regional rivals Villarreal on Thursday. That loss left Valencia 10th and 11 points from the Champions League spots.”The team is united and we are trying to get a win as soon as possible,” said Valencia striker ·lvaro Negredo. “January will be a key month.”BARCELONA DERBYBarcelona make the short trip across the Catalan capital to play the first of three derbies against Espanyol today.The two clubs will also meet in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey over the next two weeks.Barcelona will be heavily favoured to continue their record form of 2015, when Luis Enrique’s team won five titles and set a new record 180 for goals scored.The strike trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Su·rez combined for 137 of those goals. Su·rez is leading the league this campaign with 15, followed by Neymar and Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 14 each.Espanyol’s defence is the fourth-worst in the competition with 28 goals conceded. Only the three teams in the relegation zone have conceded more.
The Golden Tigresses, despite getting billed as contenders before the start of the season, settled at the seventh seed with a humble 4-10 record.Both teams were in a virtual stalemate midway through the third set knotting the scores at 15-15 but the Lady Falcons got lucky when Cherry Rondina sent her spike attempt directly to the net to get a 19-15 lead.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownRondina would make up for her earlier mistake later in the set and tied the scores at 22-22 with a powerful down the line kill before Jema Galanza and Mylene Paat immediately retaliated for the Lady Falcons for Adamson’s 24-22 lead.Paat then scored the finisher with a quick kill that landed firmly on UST’s side of the floor. Adamson Lady Falcons. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netAdamson University made sure its seniors would leave the team on a happy note as it bludgeoned University of Santo Tomas, 25-6, 25-23, 25-23 in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament Saturday at Blue Eagle Gym.The Lady Falcons bid farewell to seniors Jema Galanza, Mylene Paat Fhen Emnas, and Jellie Tempiatura, who all played their final game for the school, as they ended as the tournament with a 6-8 record.ADVERTISEMENT Jo Koy draws ire for cutting through Cebu City traffic with ‘wang-wang’ P16.5-M worth of aid provided for Taal Volcano eruption victims — NDRRMC Lady Falcons head coach Air Padda was aware of their status as a potential Final Four contender before the season started, but the reality was her team just had to settle as semifinal spectators.“It as bittersweet, they were playing to get into the Final Four today and that’s the team that I wish would’ve showed up in all the other opportunities we had,” said Padda. “That’s Adamson volleyball. I’m very proud with the way they showed up today.”“But they knew, we told them that not making the Final Four was a very big ‘sayang’ (almost).”Eli Soyud finished with a team-high 14 points for Adamson while the graduating Paat and Galanza finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.Rondina had 15 points for UST to lead all scorers.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames MOST READ Green group flags ‘overkill’ use of plastic banderitas in Manila Sto. Niño feast Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Slaughter out for another month due to severe ankle sprain Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Truck driver killed in Davao del Sur road accident Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments