Champions League news

Leonardo wary of Valencia

December 20, 2012
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has warned his squad that Champions League opponents Valencia have "a wealth of experience" ahead of the duo's second-round tie.

Leonardo
PA PhotosLeonardo believes Valencia represent a significant threat

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Though they have played second fiddle to La Liga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid for much of the last decade, Valencia have European pedigree in consecutive runners-up spots in the Champions League in 2000 and 2001, a factor Leonardo believes Carlo Ancelotti's side would be wrong to dismiss.

"I played at Valencia, even if it was 20 years ago," the Brazilian, who was at the Mestalla between 1991 and 1993, told beIN Sport. "The crowd is always up for it. They've played two finals, and have a wealth of experience. We have to go into these moments calmly. The things you see [in these games], the music - it's a dream."

He added: "It's always difficult. We'll know more after the match whether it was a good draw or not. There are some European clasicos and we have this difficult game. It'll be decided on the form of the moment and injuries. I hope we'll be in good shape. The Champions League is a 100 metre sprint every time."

Valencia's French international defender Adil Rami, who played in Ligue 1 at Lille, reacted to the tie on Twitter, tweeting: "PARIS!!! Well, I would have preferred a stadium I don't know, but it's a good draw :-)"

Valencia have endured a difficult season, with pressure on club president Manuel Llorente to resign.

Carlo Ancelotti refused to say if Valencia was the side he wanted in the draw, adding: "We just have to play".

The Italian had suggested he would be satisfied if his team were paired with either Celtic or Valencia ahead of Thursday's last 16 draw at UEFA HQ in Switzerland. He was handed the latter, but would not admit it was Christmas come early for him and his players.

"It's a draw. I'm not satisfied or dissatisfied, it's just normal. They're a team with experience in the Champions League, they have reached two finals in recent years. So, we have to play. We mustn't think it's going to be easy or not easy, we have to play," Ancelotti told a press conference.

"I know the Champions League very well. You can think it's a good draw, but you still have to play it. You have to prepare, be focused. We have to play at our best in February."

Valencia feature a number of players who have Ligue 1 pedigree, notably French internationals Aly Cissokho, Jeremy Mathieu and Rami as well as impressive Algerian international midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, who was born just outside Paris. Argentine midfielder Tino Costa and Portuguese defender Ricardo Costa have also appeared in the French top flight, and Ancelotti is aware the Spanish club's current mid-table position does not befit a squad filled with menacing talents.

"Individually they're good," said the ex-Chelsea boss. "I don't know what's happened to them recently. We'll have time to watch their games. They have a tricky fixture list before we play them. They play Real Madrid and Barcelona. We'll have time to study that."

Ancelotti also added that Nene, who has already returned to his native Brazil for the festive period, has not confirmed to the club his desire to quit PSG this January as he announced on his official website on Wednesday.

"I don't have time to go on the Internet to see what Nene has written," Ancelotti laughed. "He's not asked to leave."