Europa League: Struggling Spanish giants Valencia ripe for Swansea and their style

Daunting Europa League debut for the Welsh side

Valencia

In the past Swansea have been called "Swanselona" because of their stylish passing style. Yet that heavy Spanish influence could prove handy to night when Michael Laudrup's side kick off their Europa League Group A campaign at Valencia's intimidating Mestalla.

The Swansea manager appeared relaxed at his pre-match press conference here tonight, and even joked that it could be the Liberty Stadium outfit rather than the La Liga giants who field more players from Spain.

Amazingly, Swansea's Spanish armada could outnumber the hosts with five players from what is currently the world's most successful football nation in their starting line-up compared to Valencia's four.

Although the former Valencia winger Pablo Hernandez is ruled out with a hamstring injury, Michu is expected to be joined by fellow countryman Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo as Swansea's rise to domestic prominence is tested by the two-time Champions League finalists.

However, Valencia have made their worst start to a league campaign in 14 years with three defeats in four matches – a natural consequence, perhaps, of being forced in recent seasons to sell prized assets such as Tottenham's Roberto Soldado, Juan Mata and David Silva. So Laudrup was quick to turn up the pressure on the hosts by pointing out that Miroslav Djukic's side are a shadow of the club's best.

"I'm quite confident," said the Swansea manager, "because even though Valencia are a huge team, winning leagues, getting to Champions League finals and all that in the last 10 or 11 years, I don't think the gap between the two teams right now is that big. Valencia have been the third team in Spain for many years behind the two big ones. But, at this moment, Atletico Madrid are just above them.

"They have a new manager, and again they have sold a couple of their top players.They have had a tough start to the season and on Sunday they play Seville at home, so it's a difficult moment for them.

"But that's not my problem – it's their problem. All the pressure is on Valencia. We have to try and play our best and I think we have a good chance of getting a positive result."

Swansea arrived in Spain having gained confidence with a superb second-half fightback to secure a 2-2 draw against Premier League leaders Liverpool on Monday night. So Laudrup called on his players to ensure they put the pressure on their struggling opponents from the early moments of the game in order to test the patience of the expectant home supporters.

"The fans of Valencia have been used to seeing great players and great teams passing by," he said. "They always want the best. They ask for that. They really demand it from the squad, players and manager. They have to be up there at the top and really competing with Barcelona and Real Madrid. So let's see how they react."

Laudrup spent almost a decade in La Liga as a player with Barcelona and Real Madrid before spells in charge of Getafe and Real Mallorca. He believes there is no reason to fear tomorrow night's opposition as they attempt to plot a successful course through a group that also contains Kuban Krasnodar of Russia and the Swiss side St Gallen.

"I already know we can beat anyone in this competition," he said. "We play against teams like Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United. Teams at the same level as Valencia.

"So there is no reason why we cannot beat Valencia in a one-off game."

Kick-off 6pm.

TV ITV4 Referee S Gumienny (Bel)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003