Go for goals in Spain

Ben Coley previews tonight's Europa League games and expects goals at the Mestalla where Valencia host Swansea.

Last Updated: 19/09/13 at 18:33 Post Comment

Swansea should play their part in another free-scoring game

Swansea should play their part in another free-scoring game

Swansea's trip to Valencia is the pick of the first round of Europa League group stage matches and it's one the hosts are odds-on to win.

The Valencia of old would've looked a fine punting proposition at 5/6 but the loss of key players - notably goal-machine Roberto Soldado who now plies his trade with Tottenham - looks set to hurt their quest for European glory.

Already, they've struggled in La Liga and Swansea boss Michael Laudrup has been swift to underline the problems the Spanish side face.

"All of the pressure is on Valencia," Laudrup declared in an interview with thisissouthwales.

"They have not had a good start to the season and they have a tough game against Sevilla coming up at the weekend.

"Their crowd are not like our fans.

"It's like the theatre over there.

"They come in to the stadium, sit down and, if the team play well, they applaud. But if the team do not play well, they boo.

"Valencia have been one of the top clubs in Spain for a number of years and the fans will feel they are nearly the same as Real Madrid or Barcelona - they are used to playing in the Champions League.

"But now they play Swansea in the Europa League, so there is a lot of pressure on them. We have to try to take advantage of that."

Swansea's start to the season hasn't been flawless but I was particularly impressed with the way they fought back to draw with Liverpool on Monday night, and this is a competition they're taking very seriously.

Unfortunately, former Valencia player Pablo Hernandez will miss out on a return to the Mestalla through a hamstring injury but Wilfried Bony is fit and already looks to be forming a solid relationship with Michu.

No fewer than six members of Laudrup's squad have experience of playing in La Liga so this European adventure shouldn't be totally alien, and what's clear to me is that they've nothing to fear.

I certainly expect them to have a go and in that spirit like the look of over 2.5 goals at 10/11.

Valencia still carry an attacking threat through Helder Postiga while Ricardo Costa, 11/1 to score at any time, has found the net twice already this season.

Their last three games have featured a total of 13 goals, with more than two in each of them, and this has the makings of a more entertaining affair than we're perhaps used to at this stage of the competition.

Swansea showed yet again on Monday that their possession football creates plenty of chances and with three of their four Europa League qualifying games having provided over two goals, it's easy to argue we should be looking at 4/7.

Tromso are faced with the task of visiting Spurs and the notoriously poor-travelling Norwegians will surely see this as a damage limitation exercise.

It's hard to find a positive angle into the game bar a Spurs win to nil, which is priced up at a prohibitive 4/6 and while that's far from a bad price, I'm in no rush to get involved.

Wigan are the other English side involved but they've more pressing concerns than a fanciful tilt at the Europa League given a modest start to life in the npower Championship, particularly on their travels.

The loss of Roberto Martinez, James McCarthy and Arouna Kone to Everton might've boosted the club's finances but those called in to replace the latter pair don't set the pulse racing.

It's with that in mind that I'm surprised we can have upwards of 6/4 about Zulte Waregem beating Wigan on their own patch.

The Belgian outfit - who finished second in their domestic league last year - beat Anderlecht in their last home game and have the likes of Thorgan Hazard, younger brother of Eden, among their ranks.

Surely they're a level above Wigan and are more likely to take this competition seriously so at 13/8 I'm going to pay to find out.


Sky Bet Free Bet Club: £10 free bet - £5 free every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

Footer 365

Diego Costa gets two assists Chelsea's 3-1 win over Vitesse Arnhem

Diego Costa grabbed two assists as Chelsea beat Vitesse Arnhem 3-1 on Wednesday

Women's football: Natasha Dowie says Fara Williams can earn 200 caps

Fara Williams has enough ability to earn 200 caps for England, according to Liverpool Ladies team-mate Natasha Dowie

Women's football: Dunia Susi and Rachel Brown-Finnis out of England's game with Sweden

England Women’s boss Mark Sampson has been hit by two withdrawals from his squad ahead of Sunday's game against Sweden

Mail Box

Divock Origi Is Like Connor Sammon (Sort Of)

One Mailboxer inserts his tongue into cheek to offer his thoughts on Liverpool's newest signing. Plus thoughts on league-owned clubs, badges, and swearing...

Mails Come From A Land Down Under

We have an example of league-owned clubs from Australia while Kiwi boys want more respect for refs. Plus, Van Gaal won't stick with 3-5-2 and worried if Koeman will cut it...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property