Wednesday 13 December 2017

Laudrup unfazed by Valencia threat

Michael Laudrup: unfazed by prospect of Valencia
Michael Laudrup: unfazed by prospect of Valencia

Swansea have been called 'Swanselona' because of their stylish passing style, but that Spanish influence could prove handy tonight when Michael Laudrup's side kick off their Europa League Group A campaign at Valencia.

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 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.

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.

"I'm quite confident," said the Swansea manager, "I don't think the gap between the two teams right now is that big. They have a new manager, and again they have sold a couple of their top players. 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."

Valencia v Swansea,

Live, ITV 4, 6.0

AVB's fixture pile-up fears

Andre Villas-Boas has warned his players' careers could be wrecked because of a fixture pile-up. Tottenham play Aston Villa in the third round of the League Cup on Tuesday, just two days after the north London club face Cardiff in the Premier League.

Given that Spurs play Tromso in the Europa League tonight, Villas-Boas's squad face a hectic period of three games in six days.

"After this game we have not only the Sunday game but the Tuesday game, which I found as an incredible surprise," Villas-Boas said. "How can a game be scheduled immediately after two days? It's putting the players' careers at risk."

Aaron Lennon will definitely miss tonight's Group K meeting with Norwegians Tromso at White Hart Lane because of a foot injury, while Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue are also out. Jermain Defoe is expected to start only his second game of the season, having been used mainly as a substitute so far.

Tottenham Hotspur v Tromso,

Live, 3e/ITV4, 8.05

Boyce: Wigan in it to win it

Wigan Athletic are not in the Europa League just to make up the numbers, their captain Emmerson Boyce has warned ahead of his side's European debut at Belgian side Zulte Waregem.

Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup and suffer relegation in the same season four months ago and have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship under new manager Owen Coyle. However, Boyce expects them to show no fear against Group D opponents Zulte, Russian club Rubin Kazan and Maribor from Slovenia.

"No one expected us to win the FA Cup, so we'll go into every game in the Europa League aiming to win," he said.

Zulte Waregem v Wigan Athletic,

Live, BT Sport 1, 6.0

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