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Previewing Valencia vs. Monaco, Champions League Play-Off


Nerves and anticipation are growing on the East Coast of Spain as Valencia prepare for the biggest game in the club's recent history and the two games are now heading their way and it's two games they worked extremely hard last season to receive.

First leg: Wednesday 19th August 2015, Mestalla
Second leg: Tuesday 25th August 2015, Stade Louis II

Valencia can be likened to Monaco in some way giving that they are extremely dangerous on the counter-attack, have money to spend (plenty of it might I add!) and plenty of extremely good young talented players.

Valencia's project at the moment is working and now they have a chance to not just make history Spain by giving Spain five teams in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and becoming the first country to have that many teams in the group stage of this competition but for Valencia it's much more than just that.

Valencia haven't been in the Champions League for a few years now and this is their chance to reach the group stage of the competition and the hard work of last season cannot go down the pan now by failing to overcome a French side who over-achieved in last season's competition.

Jorge Mendes's involvement in the club's transfer dealings frustrates me but it also frustrates many Valencia supporters and it's led to the departure of now former president Amadeo Salvo and other departures from the club's board.

Valencia's transfer dealings for a club that's just returned to the Champions League albeit the play-off stage of the competition for now has been slightly underwhelming if I'm honest.

Negredo is a poor signing because he doesn't offer enough goals to the side but due to the terms of the deal with Manchester City they had to sign him permanently, Cancelo at the moment is pretty poor at right back, Gomes from Benfica just doesn't work when you have Fuego who holds the defence together and protects it.

As for the other signings Rodrigo is a good signing from Benfica with a bright future as is Rodrigo De Paul who should breakthrough this season and really impress people, Danilo Barbosa is a good prospect in the holding midfield role but the signings that really excite me are Santi Mina and Bakkali.

Bakkali is just 19 but he's shown already in pre-season that he can hurt the opposition because his dribbling ability and pace help him immensely but for me it's how direct he is, he isn't afraid to go right at the defence and go for the throat and Santi Mina is one of Spanish football's brightest talents right now, at just 19 he's found his way in the record books at Celta Vigo and believe me now this kid is gonna be a stunning stunning player and one day he'll be leading the line for La Roja.

New goalkeeper Mat Ryan will be Los Che's number one goalkeeper this season until November/December time when Diego Alves return and although he's a good shotstopper he's still just 23 years of age and these two ages put an enormous amount of pressure on his shoulders.

There's been no key departures from Los Che this summer and with Otamendi, Mustafi and Gaya in your defence it gives me real confidence because even despite worries defensively in pre-season I've a very high amount of confidence in Los Che at the back.

These two games against Monaco are absolutely huge for the club's future and going out into the Europa League group stages is truly unthinkable and Otamendi's future could depend on whether Valencia progress or not, it's as simple and as clearcut as that.

Both sides are young sides who are threats on the counter-attack and on paper it's a quarter-final tie, you can deny it until you're blue in the face but denying it will make you look silly, failure for either side will be disastrous but for Valencia this is a continuation of their project and failure just can't be thinked about, it really is unthinkable.

Gaya's relationship with Alcacer is sensational and if his delivery is right on the night Alcacer can end this tie before the trip to Monaco he really can but Los Che's defence has to overcome nerves and pressure, Los Che simply cannot afford failure in this one, they simply have to win the first leg because if they don't the whole club's short-term future and project will be left on the cliffs hanging by a thread.

Monaco may again have Falcao out on loan but they present danger on the counter-attack for Los Che and with the likes of Pasalic, El Shaarawy, Moutinho they have the experience and quality to hurt Los Che and with Abdennour and Carvalho at the back they have the experience and knowhow to keep things tight in games like this.

Los Che just cannot fail it and it's absolutely clearcut that the first
 leg is crucial because when the Curva Nord get going behind that goal at Mestalla you'll feel intimidated and you'll feel under pressure.

Monaco over-achieved last season there's no doubt about it and if they are to progress here they'll need to show experience and knowhow and be able to cope with the Mestalla because it's going to be absolutely rocking.

Gaya attacking and over-lapping down the flanks, his delivery is superb and it's going to be key because if he can feed Alcacer he really can end this tie on the night but Gaya has to be careful because if either side are caught on the counter-attack in this first leg it could be the difference between group stage and elimination.

Los Che are a young side and lack Champions League experience but they can at least go as far in this competition as Monaco did last season but they just cannot afford to blow it on the night, they must keep calm and focused because any lack in concentration could be heart-breaking and absolutely disastrous for the whole club, I cannot tell you how much this tie means to me and the whole of Valencia and the people at the club, the supporters you name it.

Defensively Los Che must be spot on and if they are and Gaya can get his delivery into Alcacer Los Che can travel to Monaco with real real confidence, I'll stick my head in the sand if Los Che go to Monaco without a lead, I'm going to get right behind Nuno and the boys for this one, failure isn't in in our culture, La Liga and its side don't know failure, English sides do but La Liga only knows success and in Valencia we trust!

What to expect on the East coast of Spain

We can expect a Los Che side to keep possession in the first-leg and look to gain control of the game early on but for me the key is to get Gaya attacking and over-lapping down the flanks, his delivery is superb and it's going to be key because if he can feed Alcacer he really can end this tie on the night but Gaya has to be careful because if either side are caught on the counter-attack in this first leg it could be the difference between group stage and elimination.

Los Che are a young side and lack Champions League experience but they can at least go as far in this competition as Monaco did last season but they just cannot afford to blow it on the night, they must keep calm and focused because any lack in concentration could be heart-breaking and absolutely disastrous for the whole club, I cannot tell you how much this tie means to me and the whole of Valencia and the people at the club, the supporters you name it.

What to expect in Monaco

The game in Monaco will obviously be played depending on how the first leg ends but Monaco will play the first-leg looking to keep things tight and hit on the counter whilst I suspect Los Che will look to do the same in Monaco in the second leg but if they don't travel to Monaco with a lead they need to attack from the off and go right for the throat, this Monaco side are nothing special and defensively they are for me deficient and if Gaya can't get joy down the flanks we may aswell pack our bags and enjoy the Europa League.

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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport: Previewing Valencia vs. Monaco, Champions League Play-Off
Previewing Valencia vs. Monaco, Champions League Play-Off
Nerves and anticipation are growing on the East Coast of Spain as Valencia prepare for the biggest game in the club's recent history and the two games are now heading their way and it's two games they worked extremely hard last season to receive.
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TheSportMatrix | We Live For Sport
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