Europa League: Juan Antonio Pizzi ready for Basel challenge

Juan Antonio Pizzi Valencia

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Juan Antonio Pizzi says he is expecting an extremely tricky time when his Valencia side take on FC Basel in the first leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday.

After a disappointing opening half of the campaign, Los Che have impressed since Pizzi took over as manager during the winter break but Sunday’s defeat to Getafe means they now look unlikely to qualify for next season’s European competitions due to them being nine points adrift of Villarreal with just seven games remaining.

The situation dictates that the Europa League could now have a massive bearing on the overall outcome of their campaign, but they will have to be at their very best to win the tournament with them currently 5.00 to win the trophy on May 14 in Turin.

First up is a trip to St. Jakob-Park to face Basel in the quarter finals and it is sure to be a strange atmosphere at the ground due to the fixture being played behind closed doors as a punishment for the Swiss fans’ behaviour in the last round.

Valencia are currently 2.17 to win the game, with the draw 3.27 and the home side 3.19 and although his team are the favourites for the victory, Pizzi knows it won’t be easy for them to gain an advantage heading into next week’s second leg at the Mestalla.

“The players have trained well and they can’t choose to play in one tournament or another. They want to play,” he told reporters.

“I don’t feel we are favourites [against Basel]. I don’t think we’re better or worse than anyone.

“We need to compete and try and have a good day. We’re not top of our League but we play in a very competitive League with world class teams and we’re aware we’re representing Spanish football.”

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