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UEFA Champions League Play-Offs Preview: Rodrigo aiming for Euro glory

Rodrigo Moreno has insisted that Valencia can regain their place in Europe’s elite ahead of the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off qualifier against Monaco.

The Valencia forward, who joined permanently in June following a loan spell last season, scored four goals in all competitions last term as Nuno Espirito Santo led the six-time La Liga champions back into the Champions League.  

And Rodrigo is adamant that the two-time runners-up have what it takes to hold their own in the competition, but knows that Monaco will provide a stern test.

“This club should be aiming to be among the best in Europe and win titles, and we believe we can challenge to do that,” said Rodrigo, who appeared in back-to-back Europa League finals with Benfica. 

“Keeping a clean sheet and making the most of the chances will be key, Monaco have added some great players and had a great showing last year.”

Valencia play host to Monaco in midweek as 20 teams battle it out for a place in the competition proper. 

Malmo boss Age Hareide has slammed UEFA for allowing Celtic to make additions to their squad before the two sides meet at Parkhead on Wednesday.

Celtic should have new signing Scott Allan available for the tie, but Hareide believes it is unfair on Malmo, with the transfer window in Sweden having closed on August 11th.

“We can’t change UEFA rules but it’s different for us, we can’t sign players after the second round,” he said.

Manchester United will play in their first Champions League qualifier since 2005 when they welcome Club Brugge to Old Trafford.

United’s previous play-off fixture ended in a 6-0 aggregate triumph over Hungarian outfit Debrecen, and Louis van Gaal will expect his side to maintain their solid, if unspectacular, start to the season.

Meanwhile, Lazio are hopeful that Miroslav Klose will be fit for Tuesday’s clash with Bayer Leverkusen, although they will likely be without Filip Djordjevic and goalkeeper Federico Marchetti.

Russian Premier League leaders CSKA Moscow warmed up for their visit to Sporting Lisbon with a 2-1 derby win against Spartak Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk face Rapid Vienna and Belarus champions BATE Borisov host Partizan.

Basel reached the last 16 last term and will be hoping that experience will come in handy when they entertain Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Elsewhere, Albanian champions Skenderbeu Korce play host to Dinamo Zagreb, with APOEL travelling to Kazakhstan to face Astana.

Sun 16 Aug, 2015
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