Next up - Levante 2nd leg
Updated Wednesday, 29th August 2012
Motherwell and a hardy band of supporters will make their way to the City of Valencia stadium on Thursday evening for what is likely to be a farewell to European football for the season.
With the first leg burden of a 2-0 defeat to overcome it’s no wonder that no one expects Motherwell to be in Friday’s draw for the Europa League group stage. Some bookies are offering 12/1 on the shock win on the night but in order to progress we would need a three goal margin.
Stuart McCall has already suggested that next Sunday’s game against Inverness is his priority and that will be reflected in his team selection. Hutchison’s last gasp foul at Fir Park means he is ineligible and he’ll be joined on the sidelines by Saunders, Ramsden and probably Hateley. Higdon and Law were carrying injuries ahead of the St Mirren game last weekend and they must be likely non-starters. Indeed, it would make sense to save them from the long trip. Rest and recovery will not be helped by an overnight return flight from Spain.
The upshot is that many of the younger squad members will have to overcome the heat and humidity in Valencia as they try to pull off a shock. The manager’s tactics will be similar to those employed in Athens – stay in the game, hope for a goal to set up a ‘have a go’ final twenty minutes. In the event that we lose the first goal then self preservation must be the order of the day.
Levante lost to newly promoted Valladolid in Monday’s La Liga fixture. Diop played in that game and he will be available to bolster their midfield after the visa problem that prevented him playing in Motherwell..
Motherwell have yet to find the net against European opposition after three attempts and it’s hard to see how they can overcome the well marshalled defence that awaits them in Spain. Any improvement on the five goal aggregate that saw us exit the Champions League would save face and a 2-0 defeat would just qualify.