Champions League

Valencia v Lyon: All eyes on Neville as Spaniards face must-win clash

Gary Neville will take charge of his first match as head coach on Wednesday, with Valencia facing a must-win clash in their bid to qualify for the Champions League knockout round.

All eyes will be on Neville as Valencia welcome already-eliminated Lyon to the Mestalla, needing to win the final Group H fixture to stand any chance of leapfrogging Gent into the next stage.

England assistant coach Neville was named as Nuno Espirito Santo’s replacement on December 2 and takes over a Valencia side, who are assured of a Europa League berth in third position – a point behind second-placed Gent – hoping the Belgians fail to beat leaders Zenit.


Valencia head into the midweek encounter full of confidence, having held Spanish and European champions Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla, where Neville watched from the stands as interim boss Voro oversaw proceedings.

“He was a great player for Manchester United. Now it will be time to pull together,” Valencia midfielder Danilo told

“Even with a change of coach, my feeling is the same and I am focused on playing.

“We all know Wednesday’s game is one that will define our lives. I think the team will make the most of the game and I think it will be a great match.”

Argentine midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, whose Valencia have lost back-to-back Champions League fixtures, added: “We will receive Gary Neville in the best possible way and we will do our best to work well with him.

“The match on Wednesday will not be an easy match, but we have to be focused.”

There is nothing but pride at stake for Lyon, whose elimination was sealed following their 2-1 loss at home to Gent last month.

Lyon – on a five-match winless streak in all competitions – are also looking to avoid making it through a Champions League group stage without a win for the first time in the French club’s history.

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