Valencia CF trail FC Basel 1893 3-0 from the away leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final, but coach Juan Antonio Pizzi says belief is the key if they are to turn things around in Spain on Thursday.
No side has ever overhauled a three-goal deficit in a knockout tie since the advent of the UEFA Europa League, but there has to be a first time for everything as far as Pizzi is concerned. "That's the first thing we have to be clear about," the 45-year-old said. "We have been talking about it since the end of Sunday's league game. We have to believe. We know it's difficult but no one can deprive us of having the dream and the hope of reversing the first-leg result."
Pizzi happily reeled off a list of games in which teams he had represented overcame the odds, as he addressed the press. "I've always been an optimist: I believe good things are going to happen even if they don't. I was like that when I was playing. Now I feel exactly the same," he said, adding: "There are three reasons why we believe we can beat Basel: because we want to, because we have the quality, because we need to."
Doubts linger over whether injured defender Ricardo Costa will be able to play – Pizzi will make an informed decision on Thursday – but the Argentine's enthusiasm has got across to his squad regardless. "We can't wait to start," said striker Paco Alcácer. "It will be a great game and a really important one. We have to come back from three down – it's a fabulous challenge. Within the team, you can sense a lot of hope about this match."
Meanwhile, despite a handsome lead to play with, Basel's Murat Yakin has vowed not to sit back. "I will not play a defensive game. We will try to kill off the tie and score," said the coach, who knows from his playing days what damage the hosts can inflict at their own stadium. "Valencia are a great club. I remember Basel's last visit to the Mestalla, we lost 6-2 [in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage], but it was a long time ago and the situation is different. This is a great opportunity for our players to enjoy a great experience at this ground and to progress to the semi-finals."
"We are very confident," added midfielder Fabian Frei. "I was present for Basel's last visit. We hope it does not happen again. Those circumstances have nothing to do with the experience this time. We will focus on giving everything to help the team."
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