Valencia vs Rangers Preview
Valencia midfielder Joaquin has warned Rangers they will treat their Champions League clash like a cup final.With Manchester United expected to top Group C and Bursaspor rooted to the bottom without a single point, it looks like being a straight fight between Valencia and Rangers for second place and a spot in the last 16.
The teams battled out a 1-1 draw at Ibrox in their last European outing a couple of weeks ago, in a match the Scots were disappointed not to win, and Joaquin is not surprised by how well Walter Smith's men, sitting a point above the Spaniards, have done so far.
"Rangers have always been a threat in this competition and still are," he said.
"There are many points still to play for and Valencia have to depend on themselves. So we are going to take tomorrow's game as a final as it's a very important game.
"This is a very open competition so to get the three points tomorrow is very important for us."
Rangers boss Walter Smith insists they are relishing the pressure they now find themselves under as expectations of a last-16 place in the Champions League begin to grow.
The Scottish champions were all but written off when the draw was made and they found themselves in a section which also includes Manchester United, Valencia and Turkish champions Bursaspor.
Rangers finished bottom of their group without a single win in the competition last year but have already garnered five points at the halfway stage this time.
He said: "There is no doubt there is pressure on us to get a result tomorrow night, it's not just Valencia who want to do well in the tournament.
"We have started well and we welcome the extra pressure that's on us at the present moment. To see if we can try to remain in the tournament after Christmas is a pressure that's welcome.
"Last season, we were never in this position and we are quite pleased to be in it at the moment."
However, Smith claims Valencia are still favourites to progress from Group C, along with Manchester United, despite some less than impressive results domestically, as well as drawing at Ibrox in their last European outing.
He said: "Valencia would have started as anyone's favourite at the start of the campaign.
"Manchester United and Valencia were the two favoured teams to remain in the Champions League. I still think that's the case.
"You mention Valencia's last two results but when you lose the players they lost in the close-season, it always takes a bit of time to find your feet.
"They did so exceptionally well in the early part but there were always going to be one or two problems.
"For the last few seasons, David Villa has been their top goalscorer and, when there was a little bit of a problem, he would do something special to win a game.
"Maybe in the last couple of games they haven't had that but overall they are still an extremely strong team and still the favoured team to go through in this competition."