Valencia started the season strongly, winning their first three Champions League matches, against Olympiacos, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk. The team qualified to pass on to the next round in a 2–2 draw against Shaktar on Matchday Four. On 15 December, Valencia were drawn to play against Italian champions Inter Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League, with the first leg scheduled to take place on 21 February. In La Liga, Valencia started the season with victories against Real Betis, Atlético Madrid, Getafe and Gimnàstic de Tarragona, along with a creditable draw with reigning Liga champions Barcelona. As of 1 October, Valencia were second, behind Barcelona on goal difference. However, they went through a slump in November which caused them to slip up in the league. The first of six winless matches started with a 1–0 defeat to Racing de Santander. This poor run was attributed to injuries to key players like captain David Albelda, midfielder Rubén Baraja, wingers Jaime Gavilán and Vicente, defenders Carlos Marchena and Asier del Horno and forward Francesco Tavano. Despite all these worries, the team is made a strong comeback, winning their last three matches before the winter break (against Deportivo de La Coruña, Real Zaragoza and Mallorca).