Laudrup expecting tough test

27th November 2013

Michael Laudrup is anticipating a "much more difficult" game when Valencia pay a visit to the Liberty Stadium, in comparison to his side's comfortable triumph in Spain.

The Swans return to Europa League action on Thursday night (8.05pm), hoping to secure qualification to the knockout phase of the tournament.

In the reverse tie against their Spanish opponents, Laudrup's side recorded a historic 3-0 victory in the Mestalla Stadium, courtesy of strikes from Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan de Guzman.

However, the Great Dane expects a very different encounter at the Liberty.

"When we played Valencia in the Mestalla, it was in very special circumstances," said Laudrup.

"They had just had three defeats, but it changed just after we played them. They got back on track and won three or four games.

"Now, unfortunately, they have lost a couple of games in the last week, but I think it's different this time because they have already qualified.

"In Valencia, I think we played a great game, but we have to remember they played nearly 80 minutes with a player less. It would be nice to repeat it, but it won't be easy.

"My players all realise that tomorrow it will be much more difficult to beat Valencia than it was in the first game."

Laudrup's side currently sit in second place in Group A, one point behind tomorrow's opponents and five points clear of third-placed St. Gallen, who travel to play Kuban Krasnodar in the earlier kick-off on Thursday night.

Qualification for the round of 32 could be decided before Swansea even kick a ball tomorrow, should St. Gallen draw with Kuban, but nevertheless, Laudrup's only focus is on the task in hand.

"Even if it is a draw, we will still try to win this game because we want to be top of the group, so it doesn't change anything," explained the Swans boss.

"I think we are in a very good position. Now we just have to finish it.

"However, whether you finish first or second in the group, the team you face [in the next round] is more or less of the same quality.

"Of course, there are a couple of teams that are really good sides, but, for me, the only difference is, if you are top of the group, you will play the second-leg at home.

"On the other hand, so far, we have done quite well playing the first at home.

"We would like to win the group, but first of all is to move on to the knockout stage."

Meanwhile, Pablo Hernandez has handed the Swans a fitness boost ahead of the fixture against his former club.

Laudrup confirmed that, while tomorrow's game may be too early for Wayne Routledge, the Spaniard has returned to training over the past couple of days and could be in the squad.

He added: "Pablo has trained with us over the last couple of days and is a possibility. Wayne will probably train for a bit today, but maybe it is a little early for him."

Michu and Garry Monk remain absent through injury.

Tickets are still available for Valencia's visit to the Liberty on Thursday night. You can purchase your ticket online, via contacting 0844 815 6665 or in-person at the Ticket Office.