Europa League: Swansea manager Michael Laudrup wary of 'unknown' Petrolul Ploiesti
The Welsh side play at home in the first leg
Thursday 22 August 2013
Michael Laudrup admits he had not heard of a single Petrolul Ploiesti player before the draw for the Europa League play-offs, but knows Swansea must be careful to avoid being part of a famous upset.
Swansea will advance to the group stages of the competition if they can overcome the Romanian cup holders over two legs, with the Welsh club enjoying home advantage in tonight's first leg.
Laudrup's men are heavily fancied to see off Cosmin Contra's side, but the draw has meant something of a trip into the unknown for the Dane and his coaching staff.
"I had not heard of any of their players before the draw," he said.
"That's why on Wednesday we sat down with the team and showed them videos.
"When you play a game in the Premier League we all know each other. But with this team I don't think any of my players will have heard of them.
"Maybe they will know much more about us than the other way around. That's why it is important to know as much as you can.
"For example, if I'm the wide player on the right then who am I playing against? Is the full-back left-footed or right? Is he fast or is he slow?
"If I am a defender I would want to know if the opposition striker is short or tall.
"It's important the players watch the videos because my players need to see what kind of players they are up against.
"It's not like when we play Spurs on Sunday and you say to the players, you are playing against Aaron Lennon or Moussa Dembele.
"We all know who they are. But no-one knows Gheorge Grozav, Younis or the other guys.
"It's not being disrespectful, but the less you know an opponent, the more work you have to do."
Should Petrolul Ploiesti pull off another upset, having dumped Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem out in the last round, the result would be viewed as among the finest by a Romanian club side in European competition.
And Celtic's Champions League play-off first leg defeat at the hands of Shakhter Karagandy has served as a timely reminder of the potential pitfalls of facing the continent's lesser-known teams.
"I saw Celtic's result but didn't see the game," said Laudrup.
"But there are a lot of teams that maybe, if you look at the name, you haven't heard of them, but you have to be careful as then suddenly you could become the victim of a team that was not so well known.
"From Romania, look at FC Cluj. Who knew them five years ago? Now they have been in the group stage of the Champions League and were quite close to moving on to the knock-out stages.
"You have to be careful. Seven or eight years ago no-one knew of teams like Shakhtar Donetsk and then suddenly they are a huge team. That's the way it is with teams from Eastern Europe."
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