Valencia v Werder Bremen
Valencia must defeat Werder Bremen 1-0 or by two clear goals to avoid elimination from this season’s Champions League.
Any other result will see Thomas Schaaf’s Bundsliga side reach the Champions League knockout stages for the first time.
After a difficult period in which the Spanish press began to question coach Claudio Ranieri’s position at the club, Valencia have bounced back, winning their last three league games and also overcoming Anderlecht in the Champions League on Matchday 5.
“Everybody was hit very badly when we lost [5-1] at home to Internazionale in the middle of our bad run but the players and I simply put our heads down and worked for this moment,” said Ranieri.
“Now our destiny is in our own hands.
“Now we need to play very intelligently against a top-quality team, keep a clean sheet and score the goal or goals we need,” the Valencia coach added.
“I have a lot of respect for Bremen but my belief is that when we and they are at 100 per cent then Valencia are the better side.”
Valencia are boosted by the return from injury of winger Vicente Rodríguez. Left-back Fabio Aurelio is also fit again after a knee injury while Roberto Ayala is close to returning too. Midfielders Mohamed Sissoko (ankle) and Miguel Ángel Angulo (thigh) miss out.
Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf may have Ivan Klasnic available after a shoulder injury with Nelson Valdez standing by.
A 6-0 win over Freiburg at the weekend gave the Schaaf’s players a timely boost.
“There could not have been a better build-up than winning 6-0 but we are all aware that Freiburg were not Valencia in the Mestalla,” he said.
“However, we will not change our tactics and try to put up a defensive wall in front of our goal. This is not our style and it’s not how we became champions of Germany.
“We have become something of a goal machine and we will play to score and to win in Valencia.”