Spanish champions Valencia go into tonight’s Group B tie with Liverpool, full of confidence, and needing just a point to clinch their progress to phase two of the competition.
Rafael Benitez’s side lie second in La Liga and come into the Anfield clash on the back of a 5-1 hammering of Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Midfielder Vicente is confident the Spanish giants are firm favourites to win in England.
“We are the favourites to gain the win at Anfield on Wednesday,” he said authoritively.
“All the possibilities for Valencia are open and, for me, we are the great favourites because we are the leaders of the group and are in great form. We are going for a triumph from the first moment,” maintained Vicente.
But despite Valencia’s comfortable 2-0 win over Liverpool on Matchday One, he admitted the Premiership leaders would be no pushover.
“They are first in the English league and that is the reason why I trust we will see a great team,” he said.
“They have excellent players in all their positions. Owen is the one who you hear most about but there are other outstanding players who we cannot leave alone for a moment, he warned.”
The Reds were outplayed when they visited Spain in their opening Group B game, but it is their only defeat in all competitions so far this season, and assistant manager Phil Thompson has assured that it will be a different Liverpool who take to the field tonight.
“We have learned from our escapades over there and all the players will be ready for Wednesday night,” he insisted.
“It wasn’t nice in Valencia,” admitted Thompson. “It was a game which knocked us back. When we went there we were playing well and it told me the level of respect we now command across Europe by how fired Valencia were for the game.
“They played to the top of their ability on the day and we didn’t reach anywhere near ours. They possessed some fantastic players but this time we are at home,” he added.
The Anfield club are second in the group, three points behind Valencia and two ahead of Basle, whose game against Spartak Moscow has been postponed until next week. With this in mind Liverpool will be looking to gain a distinct psychological advantage over their Swiss counterparts by collecting all three points tonight.
The home side look like making one change from the weekend,bringing striker Emile Heskey back in place of El-Hadji Diouf.
Roberto Ayala is the only absentee for Valencia due to suspension, Miroslav Djukic or Carlos Marchena fighting it out for the right to replace him.
Liverpool: Dudek, Carragher, Traore, Hyypia, Riise, Hamann, Murphy, Gerrard, Owen, Heskey, Diao.
Valencia: Canizares, Curro Torres, Djukic/Marchena, Pellegrino, Fabio Aurelio; Rufete, Albelda, Baraja, Vicente; Aimar, Carew.
Spartak Moscow P-P Basle