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Football: No 'favourite' for Valencia clash - Ancelotti

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti on Monday played down claims from Valencia boss Ernesto Valverde that the Ligue 1 leaders were the favourites for Tuesday's last 16 Champions League tie in Spain.

"I don't think there will be a favourite," said the Italian, who has won the Champions League four times, twice as a player and twice as a coach all with AC Milan.

"It will be a very open match. Valencia are a very well organised team with very good players (and both) teams are going through a good patch."

Tuesday's fixture will mark the first competitive meeting between the two sides and represent PSG's return to the competition's knockout stage after an 18-year hiatus.

"The Champions League, they are special matches for everyone, especially when they are knockout fixtures," said Ancelotti.

"There is a lot of pressure but the team must show character and personality to play a match like this.

"We did that very well against Porto at a very difficult period (for us). Here, things are very different. There is less pressure and more confidence, but I hope it will be the same outcome," added the Italian.

Valencia boast an impressive record of 13 wins and just one defeat in 18 outings -- a 2-1 loss to Nantes in the 1980 Cup Winners' Cup semi-final -- against French opposition and PSG will be without central defender Thiago Silva as well as Italy midfielder Thiago Motta.

"They are two big absences. But our backbone has done very well with Alex and (Mamadou) Sakho. Alex is very good physically even if he's returning from injury. In the middle, (Marco) Verratti is young but he has a lot of character. We've already done very well without them."

Labelled as a counter-attacking team by his managerial counterpart Valverde, Ancelotti replied: "It's true that (we) have many counter-attacking qualities, lots of fast players. But our objective isn't just that, it's also to play football.

"It will be a very good test for us to see if we can play our (style of) football, which also involves ball possession and defending. If we succeed, it will be very good for us.

"I don't think it will be a physical match. (It will be) rather tactical, with the combined quality of the two sides. I think it will be open with two solid teams," he added.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130211/football-no-favourite-valencia-clash-ancelotti