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Ranieri roused by culture clash


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http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl/ne ... 22687.html

Claudio Ranieri will take a break from battling relegation in Italy with Parma FC to watch two former clubs cross swords in the UEFA Champions League. According to the Italian coach, the Chelsea FC-Valencia CF quarter-final will pit "individual skills against team organisation".

Contrasting styles

"Valencia can count on great tactical organisation, while Chelsea have several great players but sometimes struggle to play as a team," the 55-year-old told uefa.com. "This season Jos? Mourinho has had to work hard. Last season's 4-3-3 was very reliable and solid, while this term he has had to adapt the system to the great players who joined last summer. At this stage I think Valencia are more of a team, while Chelsea rely on individual skills and the great talent of their players.

'Chelsea are favourites'

"However, both are great sides so it should be a very balanced tie," he continued. "Chelsea need to win because they were built to go all the way in the Champions League. Roman Abramovich has spent a lot of money and brought in great players. Chelsea are overall favourites to win the trophy. Valencia, though, are very solid. They are very difficult to beat as they defend well and can always score goals."

Valencia advantage

Ranieri, who lifted the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup during two spells at Valencia, believes the Primera Divisi?n outfit could take advantage of their underdog status, as against last-16 opponents FC Internazionale Milano. "The pressure will be on Chelsea, while Valencia have less to lose and will try to take another big scalp after beating Inter. I think it will be a beautiful match to watch, especially from a technical viewpoint."

Favourable draw

Also favouring Wednesday's visitors to Stamford Bridge, the coach argued, is the staging of the second leg in Spain on 10 April. "Having the return at the Mestalla is good for them because they will try to repeat the Inter tie. They will play with great determination and fighting spirit in London, never giving up while seeking a crucial away goal to build on at the Mestalla. When you are discussing the best eight sides in Europe, you don't have weak teams. Valencia and Chelsea are great sides and this game can be decided by small details."

Key absentee

One such detail could be the absence through injury of Fernando Morientes. "This is a big blow for Valencia," Ranieri said. "He is a great player with vast international experience, which is very useful at this stage. I don't know who will take his place, maybe Miguel ?ngel Angulo." The attacking onus may fall on the shoulders of 21-year-old Spanish international David Silva ? whom Ranieri knows well. "I'm delighted for David. He was at Valencia when I was there. He was a kid but I could see he would be a great player and he is proving it now," said the trainer.

Culture clash

Ranieri, who joined Parma in February and presides over a team sitting second-bottom in Serie A, is relishing the midweek clash of two footballing cultures he learnt to love. "The way you play and watch football reflects your country's culture," he said. "Spanish people love the good life, love entertainment. Therefore Spanish teams try to offer beautiful football, with good technique and ball possession which is nice to watch. The English prefer a team fighting for 90 minutes, never giving up. They love players who are very committed, they love hard tackles but also fair play. Obviously globalisation has changed football, with plenty of foreign coaches, but the roots are always important. I'm sure we will see a fascinating duel between two very different sides."

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