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Draw tantalises Valencia, Ludogorets sign off

Published: Thursday 20 March 2014, 23.38CET
João Pereira fancies Portuguese opposition but Jérémy Mathieu is keen to avoid Spanish after Valencia CF reached the last eight, ousting a proud PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.
by Delfin Ramirez
from Estadi de Mestalla
Draw tantalises Valencia, Ludogorets sign off
Paco Alcácer after scoring the only goal in the second leg against Ludogorets ©AFP/Getty Images
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Published: Thursday 20 March 2014, 23.38CET

Draw tantalises Valencia, Ludogorets sign off

João Pereira fancies Portuguese opposition but Jérémy Mathieu is keen to avoid Spanish after Valencia CF reached the last eight, ousting a proud PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

João Pereira is dreaming of a UEFA Europa League quarter-final against SL Benfica or FC Porto after Valencia CF completed their passage to the last eight with a 1-0 second-leg win against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad. Beaten 4-0 on aggregate in the round of 16 tie, the Bulgarian champions have nonetheless gained a taste for European football, with Júnior Caiçara eager to return to the continental stage next season.

João Pereira, Valencia defender
Ludogorets had nothing to lose today and came to play without any pressure. They have a good team – they play the ball around very well and have very fast players in attack. Our objective was not to concede and we won the game. I hope in our next matches we will score more goals, because these give us more confidence.

There are great teams in the quarter-finals so we will see what happens. Whoever we play, we will play to win. All our potential opponents are tough. I wouldn't mind playing against Benfica or Porto. I'm Portuguese, but beware – Benfica are very strong. Our goal is to reach the final and we will take it step by step. We are not even thinking about Turin.

Jérémy Mathieu, Valencia defender
Tonight was a bit difficult because we had the 3-0 first-leg win in our heads and we didn't know how to play. We tried to counterattack but the final ball meant we didn't get more goals. Still, the important thing is that we are in the next round.

We were very good in defence. They had no clear-cut chances. We are happy. I think Valencia are one of the favourites, and if we can avoid Juventus then we are good enough to reach the final. But there is a long way to go. Also, it would be nice to avoid another Spanish team.

Junior Caiçara, Ludogorets defender
I think we played well – we could have scored early on but we missed some chances. The second half was more difficult. Valencia dominated the match and scored the goal that decided the game.

Valencia are a great team and they have everything they need to win the UEFA Europa League. Valencia, Benfica and Juventus are the three strongest teams in the tournament. We have had a lot of good times in this tournament – when we played and won against Lazio, when we beat PSV. We played against a lot of great teams and we beat them, those were good times.

We have what it takes to play in European competition again next year. We are top of the Bulgarian table so we have to keep winning to qualify.

Michel, Ludogorets striker
Perhaps we were missing a goal and a little composure. We knew it would be very difficult. We had chances but we did not take them. It's only our second European campaign and we have reached the knockout phase. That means that next season we will have even more ambition. The aim is to play in the UEFA Champions League group stage, but now we have to focus on winning the league in Bulgaria, where we are top.

Last updated: 22/03/14 0.01CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000471/match=2012661/postmatch/quotes/index.html#draw+tantalises+valencia

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