Motherwell v Levante: Stuart McCall believes direct route is best

MOTHERWELL manager Stuart McCall is considering an “up and at ’em” approach against Levante in the Europa League play-offs this evening.

Motherwell matched Panathinaikos for possession in their recent Champions League qualifier but came up against more clinical opponents and lost 5-0 on aggregate.

Although they created half a dozen decent opportunities against the Greeks at Fir Park, McCall is wary of Levante’s solid formation.

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The Valencia-based side will make their European debut at Fir Park but they have an experienced team marshalled by a central defence of former Valencia stopper David Navarro and former Villarreal defender Sergio Ballesteros.

Levante topped La Liga in October last year and beat Real Madrid on their way to a sixth-placed finish with an organised formation supplemented by an adept counter-attacking game.

So, although Motherwell are one of the best passing sides in Scotland, McCall believes a direct approach could pay dividends.

“They have only just started their season, getting a good draw against Atletico Madrid, so we probably won’t know how they will approach the game, but I think we’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves, and how we approach it, which might possibly be a little bit different to how we did against Panathinaikos,” said McCall.

“Looking back at last season, they are very strong centrally.

“At centre-back, Ballesteros is coming up to 37 but great experience and a great leader and the boy next to him is 32.

“I don’t think the two boys who sit in front of them travel too far forward so they are very rigid and solid and probably very difficult to break down.

“So we may have to go a different way about it. Maybe the old Scottish approach might be different.

“It’s something we don’t normally do. We like to get the ball and make passes and have lots of possession and try to get at teams in different ways, but it might be an up and at ’em approach tomorrow.”

Motherwell had an uphill task in Athens after losing 2-0 at home thanks to an early free-kick and a late counter-attack, but McCall will not play for a goalless draw at home.

“Levante have an experienced side and don’t concede a lot. They like to hit on the counter-attack,” the former Scotland midfielder said.

“We’re underdogs and it’s still going to be a big ask but I’ll be more than happy if create a similar amount of chances as we did against Pana at home and we’ll just have a go.

“I think we have got to try to win the game but obviously be aware of their threat on the counter-attack.”

It emerged last night that Levante have left midfielder Pape Diop at home, over fears the Senegalese player would be turned away by British customs.

Levante say Diop left the team plane after a two-hour runway wait in Valencia, with Uefa and the British government failing to assure the club that he would not be turned away upon arrival.

The necessary paperwork was completed, but Diop did not have a special visa needed in line with security measures for the Paralympics in London.

Levante say Uefa have confirmed newly-signed Greece striker Theofanis Gekas is allowed to play after being added to the squad late.