‘Eclipsed by Rangers’ - Spanish press react to Celtic’s tie with Valencia

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Celtic being pitted against Valencia in the Europa League was met with a mixed response in Spain.

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Celtic and Valencia will meet for the first time since 2001. Picture: SNS

Celtic and Valencia will meet for the first time since 2001. Picture: SNS

Analysing the round of 32 draw for the Spanish team in general, Marca’s conclusion was that it “was not kind to sides from La Liga”.

The same paper noted Valencia’s struggles with the team sitting 14th in La Liga. The team only have three wins to their name in the league, and while they have one of the best defensive records in the league no team has scored less.

“Los Che’s struggles in front of goal have left them closer to the foot of the table. The disparity between defence and attack has led to Valencia breaking unwanted records.

“The board’s confidence in Marcelino is beginning to diminish and it does not help that Valencia’s numbers in front of goal are the worst in the club’s history, at this stage of the season; Marcelino’s men have failed to score in more than a third of their league matches.”

Local paper Levante put a more positive spin on the pairing with Brendan Rodgers’ side and are already looking forward to the tie with both legs taking place in February.

“Valencia are favourites against Glasgow’s historic Catholic team, which retains the mythical aura of its stadium but has lost potential in the last decade.

“The match with Celtic fits like a glove in the wishes of Valencia... is attractive from the point of view of image, a historical side of European football and with the magic staging of its stadium, Celtic Park - Paradise for its fans.

“But in addition, the meeting at the round of 32 is welcome from the sporting point of view. Celtic are no longer the team that conquered the European Cup in 1967 with the Lisbon Lions, a team formed entirely with young people from the peripheral area of Glasgow who defeated the Cctenaccio of Inter Milan.

“Neither is the team as fierce as that in 2001 which left Rafael Benítez’s Valencia on the ropes in Uefa Cup, agonizingly stretching the tie until the penalty shoot-out with star Henrik Larsson and Neil Lennon,captain and spiritual leader.”

The meeting in 2001 was referenced by a number of outlets, including Mundo Deportivo which said Valencia have “good memories” of Celtic.

The teams met seventeen years ago in the Uefa Cup, both sides winning their home fixture 1-0 before Valencia triumphed on penalties - Joos Valgaeren, Henrik Larsson and Stilian Petrov missing spot kicks.

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Levante noted that Celtic are not of that level any more.

“A team that is third in the ranking (with two games less) and that above all has lowered its potential due to the effect of two contingencies.

“The first due to the absence of their arch rivals Rangers for several years. Again in the top tier after being descended administratively until the fourth division, Celtic lost a competitive edge without the demands of its enemy.

“A stage that has coincided with the excessive financial growth of the Premier League, which has closed the way to level transfers.”

Local sports paper Super Deporte were more brutal in their analysis of the Parkhead side, stating that the club are in the shadow of rivals Rangers.

“Celtic do not dominate in Scotland, and suffered until the last minute to qualify in the tournament. They have been overshadowed by their neighbour, Rangers, on the domestic front.

“The club have been overshadowed this season in both the media and on the field after seven years of interrupted dominance in the Scottish Premiership, and after falling in the last round of qualifying for the Champions League, against AEK Athens, which forced them to compete in the Europa League.

“The descent of Rangers to the fourth division in 2012 due to economic problems began a reign of the green and white that seems to be near its end.

“Rangers, promoted two years ago to the Premiership and with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as coach, have eclipsed in the press and also in the league table.”

Celtic have been described by Levante as “unScottish” due to Rodgers’ philosophy. The same paper pinpointed Tom Rogic, Kieran Tierney, “charismatic captain Scott Brown” and Odsonne Edouard as key players.

Mateu Alemany, Valencia’s general director, said: “We have a deep respect for the teams he has overcome in Europe this season and also has a spectacular support, so we are facing a very complicated elimination,”

Striker Kevin Gameiro added: “It’s going to be a very tough tie... it will be key to score in their stadium.”

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