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La Liga clubs look to finish the job in Europe
- Updated: 14 March, 2012
After successful first legs, three La Liga teams are looking to secure their place in the quarter finals of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Valencia, Athletic Club, and Atletico Madrid have ensured that Spain has a strong contingent in the competition this year and all three teams carry a lead into their respective games this week.
Not alot more needs to be written about Athletic who impressed all with a dynamic and controlled display at Old Trafford last week. After securing a dramatic 3-2 victory, certainly the Basques that spoke after the game were confident of finishing the job at San Mames tomorrow.
“Of course we can do it. If people were impressed by the atmosphere we created at Old Trafford, just wait till you see what we have in store in the home leg “ exclaimed one exuberant fan.
They may have been billed by the English media as the underdogs of the tie, but to watchers of La Liga and to their fans themselves, the assured performance came as little surprise.
Despite having the restrictions of the self imposed ‘Cantera policy’, Athletic have developed an exciting team that promises to only get better.
The following morning, the English daily’s were waxing lyrical about the likes of Javi Martinez and Iker Muniain, but had they done their research properly then they would have known that los Leones posses two exceptional youngsters that providing they can keep hold of, can provide a spine for years to come.
Of course it would be foolish to write of Sir Alex Fergusons men, but with three away goals to their name, Athletic must be odds on to knock out the tournament favourites.
Atletico Madrid romped into a three nil lead at the break against Besiktas last week, but former Rojiblancos favourite Simão’s goal means that Atleti still have some work to do in order to progress.
Besiktas may have only won two from their last eleven games, but Turkey is never an easy place to travel to and coach Diego Simeone is wary that the tie isn’t a foregone conclusion.
Speaking to UEFA.com Simeone warned that the Turkish club were a “team to be afraid of”.
And finally after a goal packed first leg, Valencia will take a 4-2 lead to PSV Eindhoven as they look to improve on 2009/10’s quarter-final appearance.
After the two Manchester clubs, Valencia are among the favourites to lift the trophy in May but travel to Holland without the services of inform Roberto Soldado and will have to be on guard of ‘new manager syndrome’ following Mondays sacking of Fred Rutten at PSV. Philip Cocu takes over till the end of the season and will be keen to get off to winning ways.
All three Spanish teams to qualify comes in at 3/1 (if you shop about) and I think that’s a pretty good bet.Follow @icentrocampista