Nicolas Otamendi-less Valencia desperate for Champions League return
Valencia will have to cope without Argentine international Nicolas Otamendi as they attempt to move a step closer to ending a three-year absence from Champions League group action when they host Monaco on Wednesday.
Otamendi is expected to complete a lucrative move to Manchester City in the coming days, the timing of which is far from ideal for Nuno Espirito Santo`s men as they prepare for two games against last season`s quarter-finalists that could make or break their season.
"We are concentrated on the game against Monaco. What happens with Otamendi is out of our control," Valencia defender Antonio Barragan admitted on Monday.
"We need to go through. It hasn`t crossed our minds we won`t go through the qualifier."
Otamendi`s departure is the latest episode of an unsettling summer for Valencia which was compounded by drawing the toughest opponents they could have faced at this stage in Monaco.
Hampered by financial fair play regulations and a number of compulsory purchase agreements on loan deals agreed for players last summer, Nuno hasn`t been able to significantly improve the squad that pipped Sevilla to a top four finish on the final day of the La Liga season.
Australian international Matthew Ryan is expected to make his debut in goal for the Spaniards with Diego Alves ruled out for the rest of the year due to cruciate ligament damage.
Santi Mina and Zakaria Bakkali could also make their competitive bows, but both are likely to start on the bench.
Monaco`s preparations for the tie have also been far from smooth after suffering a double injury blow in a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Lille on Friday.
Portuguese midfielder Joao Moutinho will miss both legs after being ruled out for four to six weeks with ankle ligament damage, whilst Lavyin Kurzawa is a doubt as he too suffered an ankle knock.
In contrast to Valencia, Monaco are also a much changed side from the one that surprisingly reached the last eight last season.
The likes of Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and Geoffrey Kondogbia were sold on with eight new players coming in.
Ivan Cavaleiro is one of the new recruits who has experience of facing Valencia from his time at Deportivo la Coruna last season and knows what a tough task the French side face to make it back into the group stages.
"Valencia are a great team. They had a great season last year and that is where they are in the position to play for a place in the Champions League," he told the club`s website.
"They have great players and it will be a very tough tie for us."