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Champions League preview: Valencia v PSG

Paris Saint-Germain must end a poor record for French clubs at Valencia if they are to start their Champions League tie in winning style.

The big-spending Ligue 1 leaders are in top form, unbeaten in their past 13 outings in all competitions, including 12 wins.

But Valencia will be confident they can make the most of playing the first leg at the Mestalla after winning their past eight home games against French opposition.

With two wins against Lille in Group F earlier in the competition, Valencia extended their unbeaten run against teams from France to 17 matches.

The first leg of the round-of-16 tie on Tuesday shapes as an opportunity for Carlo Ancelotti’s men to start strongly away from home.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was expected to be heavily relied upon by PSG for goals in Europe, but – while the Swede star has netted twice – he has shown how valuable he is to his team.

The striker has provided a competition-high five assists and is sure to be a constant threat again in Spain.

Critics have always questioned whether Ibrahimovic can produce in the big matches and he must improve his record of just four goals in 27 matches in the Champions League knockout stages.

The problems for PSG are likely to be at the other end, with centre-back Thiago Silva (thigh) and midfielder Thiago Motta (thigh) ruled out.

It puts PSG’s strong defensive record in Europe under threat after conceding three goals in six group stage games.

Former England captain David Beckham will make the trip but has not made the squad, with the 37-year-old potentially debuting against Sochaux on Sunday.

Valencia striker Roberto Soldado has scored 14 goals in his past 14 Champions League starts, but has been unable to find the net in his past four appearances.

Ernesto Valverde has only been in charge of Valencia for two-and-a-half months and their recent form has helped them up to fifth in La Liga.

If Soldado and Jonas can fire in the attacking third, Valverde will be confident his side can get the start they need at home to PSG.

Mon 11 February, 2013
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