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Mar 4, 2013

Mathieu confident of seeing off PSG

Valencia defender Jeremy Mathieu says his team believe they can overturn their 2-1 first-leg deficit in Wednesday's Champions League last 16 second leg at Paris Saint-Germain.

Los Che had seemed dead and buried when trailing 2-0 in the February 12 first leg at the Mestalla, thanks to goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore. However, a late Adil Rami goal and an even later Zlatan Ibrahimovic red card have given them further hope ahead of this week's return at the Parc des Princes.

Mathieu, 29, said he had been personally studying videos of PSG's most recent games, and was confident Valencia could take advantage of some tactical weaknesses he had seen to score the two goals - at least - they would need to progress to the quarter-finals.

"The only secret for winning in Paris is that we believe we can beat them," he said. "We are a good team, the third best in La Liga and we must show that. We must think that they are also afraid of us. We expect the same PSG as at Mestalla. I have just watched their last two games, against Marseille and in the cup, and they sit back and wait to launch their scary counter-attack. Reims and Sochaux beat them because they were intelligent, that is what we have to do, be brave at the Parc des Princes, but above all intelligent. We can score two or three goals."

Mathieu, who impressed at left-back and left-wing last season, but has featured little this term due to a long-running Achilles tendon problem, could be needed at centre-back on Wednesday with Rami hamstrung and Ricardo Costa struggling with a thigh injury.

The Frenchman deputised there alongside Victor Ruiz during Saturday's 2-2 La Liga draw with local rivals Levante at the Mestalla, generally impressing but then making a vital injury-time mistake which allowed the visitors' midfielder Jose Bakero to equalise at the death.

Apart from that slip, he had felt comfortable during the game, and was happy to fill in wherever he was needed by coach Ernesto Valverde.

"I felt very well beside Victor for the whole game, but at the end I had a slip-up which is difficult for me as it lost us two points," he said. "It was bad luck, I am not the last player it will happen to. But I do not want to think much about it. I just want to play as much as possible and help the team where the boss puts me. I have not played much as a centre-half, but it was fine. Victor talked to me a lot, he told not to go too far up the pitch, not to lose my position. I thought it would be more difficult. The work went well."

The former Sochaux and Toulouse player said he was not listening to transfer speculation linking him with a move to the Premier League or Bayern Munich, and would prefer to extend his current contract at Valencia, which ends in June 2014.

"It seems that some English teams and Bayern were interested, but Valencia is a great team," he said. "To leave here it would have to be to a bigger team, and there are not many bigger than Valencia. I do not just want to stay here, I would like to renew my contract. My family and I are delighted with the club, the fans and the city."

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