Valencia face Belgian champions Anderlecht in tonight’s Group G opener with coach Claudio Ranieri determined to make an impression on Europe’s most prestigious competition.
However, Ranieri is aware that the physical and psychological burden on his players over the coming months will be immense.
“It is difficult with so little time working together to create the right chemistry between the coach, the players and the atmosphere the fans can create,” admitted Ranieri.
“Until the end of December we will be playing three games a week and I understood when Baraja (who recently complained about the workload) talked about the tiredness the international players accrue. You can take it for sure that I will rotate the team between league matches and Champions League matches”.
Roberto Ayala is still injured, but Baraja is fit and is in competition with Stefano Fiore and captain David Albelda for a place in central midfield.
Anderlecht arrive with concerns about their away form.
“Last season our big problem was that we lost every away game against Olympique Lyonnais, Bayern [München] and Celtic, therefore we will come and attack Valencia,” said coach Hugo Broos.
Ivory Coast striker Aruna Dindane, who recently settled his differences with the club following a transfer request, will be partnered up front by summer signing Mbo Mpenza, while midfielder Walter Baseggio is the sole injury doubt.