Next up - Levante
Updated Wednesday, 22nd August 2012
Motherwell begin the second European campaign of the season against Levante at Fir Park on Thursday. Can we produce a miracle to reach the group stage?
The short answer is probably not. Levante, dwarfed by city rivals Valencia, are barely a household name on their own coastline but a quick glance through their profile reveals a club which operates simply on a different level to ours. Even with star striker Kone being sold recently they simply went out and recruited Theofanis Gekas as a replacement - an ageing goal-machine perhaps, but a goal-machine nonetheless.
Cause for optimism (!) comes from their away record. They lost over half of their matches in the league away from home, winning only five from 19 and failing to beat a single team from the top half. The cup also offers further information which will intrigue Stuart McCall - they lost all three of their away games in that competition, twice relying on home form in the return leg to escape from danger before being outclassed in the quarter finals. They haven't won away from home since March. Clutching at straws? Absolutely!
With this in mind, Stuart McCall is likely to repeat the 4-4-2 tactic of the Panathinaikos home leg. We must remain compact but though the primary goal has to be keeping the tie alive for the away game, to stand any chance of going through we must realistically look to sneak a win here. Ramsden is out meaning Cummins should partner Hutchinson at the back while it is hard to imagine anyone else being dropped after Saturday's performance.
No doubt we'll give it everything we have but even that may not be enough to secure more than a hard fought 1-1 draw.
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