Valencia, Roma to clash

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Valencia host AS Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday with both sides well aware of the other's abilities.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Valencia, third in Spain's Primera Liga standings, host AS Roma in one of the most eagerly-awaited clashes in the Champions League group phase on Wednesday night. The home side are unbeaten in their domestic league after a riveting 1-1 draw with leaders FC Barcelona on Sunday. They are also level on points with the Catalans and Real Madrid after four games. Confidence is high, but coach Quique Flores is well aware of the threat posed by the visitors and said as much on Tuesday. "We're going to take advantage of this opportunity. They are an exciting side and that's why we believe it will be another difficult match," said Flores. Tough match After a 4-2 win at Olympiacos in their opening Group D match two weeks ago, Valencia would take a giant leap towards reaching the next stage were they to defeat Roma. Visiting coach Lucciano Spalletti certainly has great respect for Wednesday's opponents. "It will be a tough match for us because Valencia is a very hard team. They have shown it in the Champions League and in the Spanish League also," said Spalletti. Roma are second in the Serie A standings following a superb 4-0 win at Parma on Sunday. Captain Francesco Totti has been their inspiration for several years and Valencia's veteran Argentine defender Roberto Ayala believes that it is imperative to stop the attacking midfielder. "The match depends on the creativity of (Francesco) Totti. If he plays well, the others will follow. It is a team, yes, but if we stop him, we will have the advantage," said Roberto Ayala, Valencia defender. Stage set Roma thumped Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 in their opening Group D game, but are sure to find life more difficult against Valencia's potent attack. Fernando Morientes scored a hat-trick in the Spaniards' win at Olympiacos. But in Christian Panucci, Roma have a defender who knows all about the former Liverpool striker from their time together at Real Madrid. "Valencia is a team that earns their stripes. They are very good in attack. We have to be careful with players like (Fernando) Morientes who score goals. For that reason we have to put in a quality performance," said Panucci. The scene is set for an entertaining clash between two of Europe's top sides. While both sides will expect to qualify, they are sure to be trying their hardest to take top spot in their group.(AP)

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