Michael Laudrup looks confidently towards Europa League campaign as Swansea prepare to take on Malmo - European - Football - The Independent

Michael Laudrup looks confidently towards Europa League campaign as Swansea prepare to take on Malmo

Swedish club visit the Liberty Stadium on Thursday in first leg of the third knockout round in a tournament that Laudrup has hailed as 'special'

Michael Laudrup is looking ahead to Swansea’s Europa League campaign in a confident mood after claiming they will overcome any rustiness when they meet Malmo on Thursday night.

The third qualifying round first-leg at the Liberty Stadium will mark Swansea’s return to European competition after 22 years away from the spotlight having appeared in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991.

On that occasion, they were thumped 10-1 on aggregate by a star-studded Monaco side, but Laudrup is far more hopeful this time around after they qualified for the tournament through their Capital One Cup success.

"Of course it is special," said the Dane, who experienced European success during his playing career with Barcelona as they won the European Cup for the first time in 1992.

"Suddenly as a player and a manager you are against sides you are not used to facing. In the league you play and you go on and on, here you have two games and one team will go out.

"The only time we tried it last season was the fantastic semi-final against Chelsea in the cup.

"But even with the cups here in the UK it is usually one game, here it is two legs and even in the first game you have to think ahead. It is very different."

Malmo are no slouches though, having dispatched Scottish Premier League side Hibernian 9-0 in the second round.

The Swedish club also have the advantage of being well into the league campaign, having already played 17 matches in the Allsvenskan. They currently sit second in the league table, and they actually won the second tier of European football back in 1979.

But Laudrup is confident his side have both the quality and fitness to handle the visitors, but has stressed the importance of away goals by not conceding on home soil.

"They are a good side but it always difficult to compare them with us,” explained Laudrup.

"The Allsvenskan is not the Premier League, but they are 17 games, plus a couple of European fixtures, into their season, whereas we are just starting.

"They have played a lot of games with the same 12-13 players; we have new ones coming in.

"If this game were played in three months’ time we would be favourites; now I think it is much more even."

He added: "Perhaps at the end of the game there could be some rustiness.

"But if you look at the three pre-season games, we have done well.

"Against Reading last weekend we were 3-0 up with 20 minutes to go.

"Maybe in the last 15 minutes there could be something but I think the players will be just fine.

"We want to win but we know it's important not to concede as away goals are so important in this competition."

Laudrup looks set to be without central defender Chico Flores, who has failed to recover from a thigh injury, so Jordi Amat is set to deputise alongside Ashley Williams and make his Swansea debut, with fellow summer recruit Wilfried Bony also in line to make his bow.

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