Champions League Group H: Baptism of fire for Bats boss Neville
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | December 8, 2015
Valencia v Lyon
- Champions League Group H
- Wednesday, December 9th
- Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
- Mestalla, Valencia
- Live on BT Sport Extra 5
Tough first test for G Nev
“Lyon is a big game, it sets the benchmark straight away,” said Gary Neville ahead of his first match in charge of Valencia for the crunch Champions League Group H clash. “It gives me an immediate understanding of what our mentality is like.”
However, he added: “Not everything is in our hands, but we have to focus on what we do control,” which is in reference to the fact that even a win (odds-on at 4/9 with Coral) could mean nothing if Gent beat Zenit St Petersburg at home.
“If we don’t have the result in the other game we want, that’s life,” Neville continued. “The most important thing for us is focusing on our players, our direct opponent.”
Certainly wise words from a man still only 40 years old and in his first managerial position. But the worst case scenario is that the Bats qualify for the Europa League, as final opponents will finish bottom no matter what, having claimed just a sole point from their five matches to date.
Valencia (5/4 to reach the knockout rounds) are currently a point behind Belgian team Gent, while runaway leaders Zenit have a 100 per cent record.
Bats can beat Lyon to nil again
Los Che claimed a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture against French side Lyon back in September, and so are a more tempting 11/8 price to beat them to nil.
Sofiane Feghouli got the goal that day, but is one of a number of injured Bats including Diego Alves, Shkodran Mustafi, Antonio Barragan and Rodrigo, though Neville still does have an array of talent in attack to pick from.
Despite a depleted team, the former Manchester United legend and TV pundit watched from the stands as his brother Phil helped Valencia to a creditable 1-1 draw against Catalan titans Barcelona.
Awesome Alcacer key to Neville’s fortunes
La Roja starlet Paco Alcacer’s fantastic late control and skill allowed Santi Mina to get the equaliser, and the duo are respective 10/11 and even-money shouts to net anytime here.
Others Neville can turn to include ex-Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo (13/10) and former QPR loanee Daniel Parejo (6/4).
For visitors Lyon, meanwhile, they do have star man Alexandre Lacazette on their books, and the prolific frontman is a terrific 3/1 price in the anytime market. While, Neville will come up against the very man who replaced him as a right back at Old Trafford in Rafael Da Silva (20/1).
Many football fans of all English clubs have grown to like, or at least respect Neville since his retirement as a player, and no doubt will all be wishing him for a debut win.
Coral’s top tip: Lyon have been woeful this Champions League campaign, with Valencia beating them 1-0 away. So, back the Bats to win to nil once more at 11/8 in Neville’s first game in charge.