Celtic v Valencia: Scouting report on La Liga draw specialists

Valencia are unbeaten in their last five games, including a 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Nou Camp
Valencia are unbeaten in their last five games, including a 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Nou Camp
Europa League round of 32: Celtic v Valencia
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 14 February Time: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland and follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website

As Valencia prepare to face Celtic in the last 32 of the Europa League, describing the La Liga club as "fallen giants" seems apt when you consider where they have fallen from.

A breeding ground for a host of Spanish footballing legends, the former Cup-Winners' Cup (1980) and Uefa Cup winners (2004) twice threatened to win the Champions League within the past two decades.

A Valencia team containing the likes of Santiago Canizares, Roberto Ayala, Mauricio Pellegrino, Gaizka Mendieta and Pablo Aimer lost out to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the final of that competition in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Only Real Madrid and Barcelona can boast a larger fan base in Spain, but Valencia's centenary year has been a mixed bag of frustrating pragmatism for those supporters.

Current coach Marcelino has presided over a season in which they have drawn 13 of their 23 matches in La Liga to leave them in eighth place.

And Valencia are not without selection headaches as they head for Glasgow, with Spain internationals Jose Luis Gaya and Rodrigo Moreno joining the injury list after a weekend stalemate with Real Sociedad.

They were also left with red faces after it emerged that their new loan signing, Argentina international Facundo Roncaglia, must start to serve a four-game ban handed down almost two years ago after a red card issued just minutes after he had scored against Manchester United in the semi-finals at Old Trafford for parent club Celta Vigo.

That came as something of a surprise to Valencia given Roncaglia had been earmarked as having an important role at Celtic Park.

Who are the key men?

Ezequiel Garay, 32, is in his third season at the Mestalla
Ezequiel Garay, 32, is in his third season at the Mestalla

Ezequiel Garay: The vastly experienced Argentina centre-half, and 2014 World Cup runner-up, scored the winner against Neil Lennon's Celtic for former club Benfica in a Champions League group match in 2012. He arrived at Valencia via Zenit St Petersburg.

Daniel Parejo: A classic number 10. The Valencia captain is the side's metronome and can be deadly from outside the box, whether that is from a set-play or picking out a pass. Late to the international scene, the 29-year-old Real Madrid graduate made his Spain debut last year.

Denis Cheryshev: Those who took a keen interest in Russia's journey to the quarter finals of their own World Cup will be aware of winger Cheryshev. On loan from local rivals Villarreal, the Real Madrid graduate scored four times at the 2018 finals, including one of the goals of the tournament against Croatia in the last eight.

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