City focusing on Lusitans as Partizan test looms
Valletta have all but booked their passage to the second qualifying round of the Champions League following their 8-0 win over Andorra’s FC Lusitans but coach Mark Miller is adamant that his team will not take their opponents lightly in today’s second leg at the Estadi Comunal (kick-off 7.30 p.m.).
“We are working hard in training,” Miller told The Times from Andorra La Vella.
“The boys have been fantastic, their attitude is really good.
“We’re thinking only about the next game. An eight-goal advantage should be enough to reach the next round but in life you never know.
“We are using our stay here to do a short training camp. All the staff are here and it’s good to be able to train in nice fresh air.
“With regards to the game, our aim is to play well and score goals but it will be a different match. They (Lusitans) know more about us now so they will be better prepared.”
Last Tuesday, Valletta captured the headlines after thrashing Champions League newcomers Lusitans at the Hibs Stadium, in the process setting a new record for the biggest victory ever achieved by a Maltese team in European competitions.
Malta captain Michael Mifsud took centre-stage after scoring four goals for Valletta. Brazilian forward Jhonnattann helped himself to a brace with the other two goals coming from defender Jonathan Caruana and substitute Edmond Agius who rounded the scoring 18 minutes from time.
With an eight-goal cushion to rely on, there have been suggestions that Miller might call upon some fringe players for this match but he has no plans to revamp his formation.
“I think everyone knows me now... I very rarely change if I don’t have to do,” Miller said.
“For me, it’s all about improving the understanding among the players and attaining continuity.”
Inevitably, Valletta already have one eye on their looming clash with Partizan Belgrade in the second qualifying round.
Partizan, who won their fifth consecutive championship last season, will surely start as favourites to make it to the third qualifying round as the level of football in Serbia is significantly higher than Malta’s.
After seeing Partizan recover from two goals down to beat Sturm Graz 3-2 in a friendly on Saturday, Miller has a clearer idea of the magnitude of the task facing Valletta.
“The opponents in the next round are a world apart (compared to Lusitans),” Miller said.
“Partizan are very strong, I was very impressed.
“They have a very good team and the substitutes who came on during the match looked even better than some of the players who started. I must admit that I was somewhat shocked by their level.”
Welsh referee Huw Jones will officiate today’s game.
Tre Penne vs Dudelange (0-7)
B36 vs Linfield (0-0)
Lusitans vs Valletta (0-8)
Note: In brackets first-leg result.