sport

Basel v Valencia preview

Valencia defender Joao Pereira is confident he and his team-mates can leave their recent domestic woes behind them when they take on Basel in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.

The Spaniards travel to the St Jakob-Park Stadium having suffered a drop in form in the Primera Liga that has complicated their hopes of playing in Europe next season.

Valancia, coached by Juan Antonio Pizzi, have won just one of their past six league games.

Sunday's 3-1 home defeat to Getafe saw them drop to eighth in the standings, nine points adrift of the Europa League qualifying places.

"The truth is that it is going to be very complicated for us to qualify for Europe," Pereira told www.valenciacf.es."But it's not impossible and we have not given up hope.

"We need to try to play better and give more in our remaining games. Right now our focus is on the game against Basel.

"We are in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and we will try to go as far as possible.

"We must try to defend well and avoid giving away a goal on Thursday."

Thursday's game will be played behind close doors as punishment for the unruly behaviour of a section of Basel fans that caused the second leg of their 2-1 aggregate victory over Salzburg in the last round to be suspended for 13 minutes.

Basel, beaten semi-finalists last season, go into the contest on the back of Sunday's 2-0 triumph at Luzern that lifted them three points clear of Grasshopper at the top of the Swiss Super League.

The Swiss giants are still on course to win a treble this season but coach Murat Yakin has warned his players to be wary of Valencia.

Valencia beat Ludogorets 4-0 on aggregate to progress to this stage.

"Valencia is a team with a lot of tradition," he said. "It's going to be a great tie."

Basel will not be at full strength with several players, including Marco Streller, who is their top scorer in the competition with three goals, out injured.

To complicate matters for the hosts, defender Marek Suchy and striker Giovanni Sio are suspended.

The visitors also have their share of problems with goalkeeper Diego Alves and defender Victor Ruiz out injured while midfielder Javi Fuego must serve a one-match ban.

Vicente Guaita will replace Alves in goal.