Match Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs Valencia
Valencia go into the 2nd leg of their UEFA Champions League match with Paris Saint Germain declaring their confidence in being able to overturn the 2-1 deficit in the tie. The defeat at the Mestalla was a hard one for Los Ches to take, but the side believe that the overall tie is not beyond them.
History is certainly on their side, not having tasted defeat on their last 8 visits to France. In fact, one has to go back to the 9th of April, 1980, for Valencia’s last loss on French soil.
On that occasion, they went down 2-1 to Nantes in the 1st leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final. However, that defeat didn’t halt their progress, winning the return 4-0 and a place in the final, where Arsenal were dispatched to lift the trophy.
Since then, the team now managed by Ernesto Valverde, have visited Spain’s neighbours on 8 occasions, recording 4 wins and 4 draws, scoring 16 and conceding 10. The last visit was in this season’s group stage when Jonas Gonçalves scored the only goal of the game at Lille.
In four of the nine seasons Valencia have faced French opposition, they have reached the competition final, including a 2-0 final win against Marseille in the Europa League in 2004.
The fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovi? is suspended from the 2nd leg has also added hope to the Valencian cause, although PSG are not short of attacking options.
The French will argue that PSG haven’t tasted defeat at home in Europe since 2006, a 2-4 home loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Europa League group stage, but most of their goals this season have come from the talismanic Swede and his loss could be sorely felt by the Parisians.
Thaigo Silva returns in defence, but after almost two months of inactivity, could be a weak link. Verratti and Matuidi were solid in the middle for PSG, stamping their authority and nullifying Valencia’s midfield. However, Verratti’s suspension opens up doubts as to who will replace him. Thiago Motta is not fit, and Chantôme would probably be 1st in line. However, David Beckham played in the cup against Marseille and came on to replace Verratti in the weekend game, and has impressed Ancelotti.
A 19 man Valencia travelled today, arriving in Paris around midday, and will train at the Parc des Princes this evening. Ricardo Costa has failed to recover and misses the match along with Rami, another injury absentee.
Viera and Bernat have been left out of the squad for technical reasons. Joan Bernat received an ankle knock in training on Sunday, but trained on Monday, but has been left out as precaution.
The absences of Rami and Costa means Valverde will have to repeat the centre-back pairing of Jeremy Mathieu and Victor Ruiz from the weekend derby against Levante. Aly Cissokho and Éver Banega return to the squad, having missed the weekend clash through suspension. Canales is still short of match fitness, Albelda is a basic piece to cover the defence, but it will be vital for Parejo and Banega to take a grip of the midfield. If the midfield battle is won, the tie could certainly be far from over.