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Contra: Swansea are the favourites

PUBLISHED

20:01 21st August 2013

. . . Ploiesti boss gives his thoughts ahead of Thursday's clash


Cosmin Contra insists Swansea City are clear favourites going into Thursday’s Europa League clash at the Liberty Stadium (7.05pm).
The Swans welcome Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti to SA1 in the first leg of their play-off tie.
Michael Laudrup’s side reached this stage following a 4-0 aggregate win over Malmo while Ploiesti edged past Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem in the previous round.
Contra’s side are currently fifth in Liga 1 after five games, and lifted the Romanian Cup last season.
However, the former AC Milan and West Brom defender is hoping his side can pull off a shock ahead of next week’s second leg in Romania.


“They are the clear favourites,” said Contra. “Swansea is a team that have a lot of good players and a great manager.
“They also play in the Premier League and won a trophy last season. But when I look at Swansea I see good football and it will be hard for us.
“They are not a traditional English team – they play more like Spain. I played for West Brom for six months and there were a lot of long balls.
“But we have come here to play football and try to get back to Romania with a good result to try and give us a chance of qualifying for the next round.”
The Swans kicked off their season with a 4-1 defeat against Manchester United last Saturday, with Michael Laudrup’s side now turning their attention to the next step of their European adventure.
And the Dane will be reunited with a familiar face in the opposition dugout after Cosmin Contra played under him during his time at Getafe.
The Spanish side reach the last eight of the Europa League before bowing out to Bayern Munich on away goals, and Contra has fond memories of his days with Laudrup.
“It was a great year,” he said. “We managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League and the final of the Spanish Cup.
“We played really well during the course of the season, and Laudrup is an extraordinarily good manager.
“I also know the Swansea players who played in Spain. I also played with (Pablo) Hernandez when he was with me at Getafe.
“I have also watched a lot of their matches, they are a very good side and will be looking to bounce back after the defeat to Manchester United.”
Meanwhile, Ploiesti midfielder Ovidiu Hoban insists he and his team-mates are relishing the challenge that awaits them at the Liberty Stadium.
“It is one of the most important matches that I’ll play in,” he said. “But I’m sure that all the players will be pushing to get a good result.”

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