Almeria coach Unai Emery has warned his team not to get carried away by their recent success ahead of Sunday’s clash with Racing Santander.
Newly-promoted Almeria have enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten streak in recent weeks and are only being kept out of the UEFA Cup qualification slots in seventh by Sevilla on goal difference. Racing are a point back in eighth.
They took the scalp of leaders Real Madrid along the way with an impressive 2-0 home win, but Emery insists avoiding a swift return to the second division remains their top priority.
“We need to keep our feet on the ground without losing sight of our objective,” he said after last weekend’s 1-0 win over Real Murcia.
“The team are developing but the sooner we reach the 42-point mark the better.”
The south coast club’s recent form includes a run of six matches without conceding a goal, and much of the credit for that has been heaped on the shoulders of young Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves.
“It isn’t anything I set out to do, it has just happened,” the 22-year-old told sports daily AS.
“If it continues I’ll be delighted, but I’ll be just as pleased if we beat Racing 3-1. I don’t feel under any pressure.”
Emery will have to shuffle his pack for the trip north with Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo and defender Ruben Pulido suspended.
After such a good start to the campaign, the last month has been something of a let-down for Racing, who have failed to register a win in five attempts.
However, coach Marcelino Garcia has guided them to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and on Sunday they are bound to have one eye on next week’s first leg away to Getafe.
Like his opposite number, the canny 42-year-old is not one to blow his own trumpet though.
“We may be considered two of the coaches of the moment but really we are just lucky to have good squads,” Marcelino said.
“Our most important task at present is to beat Almeria. After that we have four days to prepare mentally and physically for the Cup match.”
Marcelino is close to having experienced forward Pedro Munitis back in action after a lengthy period on the sidelines with a broken arm.
He could make the side for Sunday, as could defender Ayoze and Argentinian midfielder Aldo Duscher after injury.
Racing took all three points when the sides first met this season back in September with Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay scoring the only goal after six minutes in Almeria.