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Champions League | Playoff Round
Aug 19, 2015 at 7.45pm UK


Rodrigo (4'), Parejo (59'), Feghouli (86')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Pasalic (49')

Preview: Valencia vs. Monaco

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League playoff first leg between Valencia and Monaco at the Mestalla.

In perhaps the tie of the Champions League playoff round, Spanish outfit Valencia will take on Monaco, who were so impressive in last season's competition.

The first leg of their tie will take place at the Mestalla on Wednesday, where Valencia will look to secure an advantage ahead of the return in Monaco one week later.


Valencia's forward Paco Alcacer celebrates his goal during the Spanish league football match Valencia CF vs Levante UD at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on April 13, 2015© Getty Images

A strong 2014-15 La Liga campaign saw Valencia finish fourth in the table, just one point behind third-place Atletico Madrid, who sealed the final automatic Champions League group stage position.

Los Che had to hold off a strong challenge from Sevilla to finish in the top four, although Sevilla did ultimately qualify directly for the group stages following their Europa League success. Valencia now have the chance to make it five Spanish sides in this season's competition.

Valencia have had a two-season absence from the Champions League, but they have previous in this competition, having finished as runners-up in both 2000 and 2001. They made it through the group stages in the 2012-13 season, but eventually went out in the round of 16.

Los Che also have a strong home record against French opposition, having won eight of their last nine home fixtures against teams from Ligue 1, but they did lose 2-1 to Paris Saint-Germain during their last appearance in the competition. This is also the first time that Valencia will be competing in the playoffs of the Champions League, while the same can also be said for Monaco.

Investment from Peter Lim has aided suggestions that Valencia can once again become one of the top teams in European football. They showed last season that they could match the best teams in Spain, but they have been handed a very difficult tie against a strong Monaco outfit.

Valencia's pre-season results have also been very disappointing – losing each of their last five matches, including games against the likes of Bayern Munich and Roma. The real business starts here, however, and a positive result in the first leg is certainly needed.

Recent form: WWDWLD
Recent form (all competitions): WLLLLL


Monaco's Portuguese forward Ivan Cavaleiro celebrates with his team mates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg football match between AS Monaco vs BSC Young Boys on August 4, 2015© Getty Images

Not many predicted Monaco to make a major impression in last season's Champions League, but it proved to be an impressive campaign for the French side, who made it to the quarter-finals.

Progressing from a group that also contained Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica and Bayer Leverkusen was not too much of a surprise, but their outstanding result came in the round of 16, when they overcame Arsenal over two legs. Their journey came to an end against Juventus in the quarters, but it was still a very strong season for one of the unfancied sides in the competition.

They missed out on automatic qualification for the group stages this season, however, after finishing third in Ligue 1 behind Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon. Leonardo Jardim's side just about pipped Marseille to third, while Saint-Etienne were also not too far behind in fifth position.

Key players have left this summer, meanwhile, with Geoffrey Kondogbia, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Lucas Ocampos all seeking pastures new. Ivan Cavaleiro has been the high-profile arrival from Benfica, but the squad certainly looks weaker than last season.

Jardim's side were drawn against Young Boys in the third qualifying round last month, but they eased their way into the playoffs with a comfortable 7-1 aggregate victory.

Monaco have made a decent start to the new Ligue 1 season, meanwhile, taking four points from their first two matches to sit sixth in the table. They boasted such an impressive defensive record in all competitions last season and will need to produce something similar if they are to enjoy more success this time around.

Like Valencia, Monaco also have previous in the Champions League having finished as runners-up in 2004. One of these European giants will be eliminated at this stage of the competition and the first-leg result could have a huge bearing on the final outcome.

Recent form: WLLDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWWD

Team News

Valencia's forward Paco Alcacer celebrates his goal during the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal second leg football match Valencia CF vs FC Basel at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on April 10, 2014© Getty Images

Valencia boss Nuno is still without first-choice goalkeeper Diego Alves, which could mean an official debut for summer signing Mathew Ryan between the sticks.

Nicolas Otamendi is not expected to feature as the Argentine reportedly closes in on a move to the Premier League, but Los Che have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match.

Alvaro Negredo and Paco Alcacer could start as the front two, while Zakaria Bakkali will also hope to feature following his summer move from PSV Eindhoven.

Monaco, meanwhile, also have no fresh injury concerns for the clash at the Mestalla.

The back five and two midfield players are not expected to change, but Stephan El Shaarawy could come into the attack alongside Bernardo Silva and Cavaleiro.

Anthony Martial could also replace Guido Carrillo through the middle for the visitors.

Valencia possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Barragan, Mustafi, Orban, Gaya; Feghouli, Parejo, Gomes, De Paul; Negredo, Alcacer

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Subasic; Fabinho, Raggi, Carvalho, Kurzawa; Toulalan, Moutinho; Cavaleiro, Silva, El Shaarawy; Martial

Head To Head

The last time that these two teams met was in a friendly at the start of the 2014-15 season – that particular fixture at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium finished 2-2.

The only competitive tie between the two sides took place in the 1980-81 European Cup Winners' Cup first round, when holders Valencia beat the French outfit 5-3 on aggregate.

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We say: Valencia 2-1 Monaco

Valencia were very good at home last season and will feel that they need to take a lead into the second leg if they are to qualify from the tie overall.

Monaco will cause plenty of problems and may well grab an away goal, but the hosts should have just about enough to claim a narrow advantage at the Mestalla.

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Monaco's Italian forward Stephan El Shaarawy celebrates after scoring the 4-0 during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg football match between AS Monaco vs BSC Young Boys on August 4, 2015
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