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Football: Valverde believes in Valencia chances

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Valencia coach Ernesto Valverde acknowledges that his team were outplayed by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, but insists that they can overturn their 2-1 deficit.

The Spanish club know that they are up against it at the Parc des Princes, even if they travelled to France on a run of just one defeat in their last ten matches in La Liga while PSG must do without suspended talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Runners-up in 2000 -- when they were beaten by Real Madrid in a final played at the Stade de France -- and in 2001, Valencia are bidding to reach the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2007, the same year that Valverde took Espanyol to the final of the UEFA Cup.

But to do that, Valencia will need to score at least two away goals, a tall order against opponents renowned for their defensive strength and ability to hurt teams on the counterattack.

"We are currently trying to qualify for next season's Champions League via La Liga," said Valverde, whose side are fifth in the Spanish top flight, one point behind fourth-placed Malaga.

"But we are here now, so we don't want to be knocked out. Of course we will try, we know it will be difficult but nothing is decided yet. We believe in our chances."

"We know that PSG are potent on the break but we will try to attack them.

"Evidently we have to score. Even one goal will not be enough, so we will need to score more and that's what we will try to do."

The French side may be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to suspension, but Valverde is wary of the opposition's significant strength in depth.

"They still have players, quick players, who can cause us damage," he added.

"We are coming up against a great team whose biggest virtues are their threat on the break and their defensive organisation.

"We had 60 percent of the ball in the first leg, but didn't profit from that and they were superior.

"Luckily in football you get a second chance."

Injuries mean that Valverde is likely to start Frenchman Jeremy Mathieu -- habitually a left-back -- alongside Victor Ruiz in central defence, and the coach has several other players in his squad with experience of the French game.

Left-back Aly Cissokho joined Valencia from Lyon last summer and has turned out for Les Bleus, while playmaker Tino Costa was previously with Montpellier.

In addition, Algerian international Sofiane Feghouli was born in the Paris suburbs and followed PSG as a youngster.

He admits that the club which has been transformed by massive Qatari investment in the past 18 months bears next to no resemblance to the side he supported.

"When I was little, PSG were very different. They have changed a lot, and people see them differently both nationally and internationally," said the 23-year-old.

"What has happened is great for the city. Places like Marseille, Madrid and London have always had great clubs, but Paris didn't have that.

"It is good for France and for the other French clubs."

"Of course we can still qualify, otherwise we would not have come," he added.

"We need to play with determination and intensity. If we play our game then I think we will get opportunities against them."

as/pi

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130305/football-valverde-believes-valencia-chances