50 Rangels to descend on Mestalla to back the Jacks
AN army of Rangels will descend on Valencia tonight looking to see one Swansea City player finally grace the Spanish main stage.
Angel Rangel has never played in La Liga and had to swap Spain for South Wales to reach the top.
The right-back was a lower league player for little-known Terrassa in his homeland before Roberto Martinez plucked him from obscurity six years ago.
Since then Rangel has risen to the highest level of English football with Swansea.
Running out at one of Spain’s major venues in the Europa League this evening will be another significant milestone for the defender.
And he will have a host of friends and family there to witness the occasion.
“My family live just an hour from Valencia so I have about 50 people coming. Every one will have my name on their back,” smiled Rangel.
“They will be in the Swansea end.
“It will be nice to see a lot of my family and friends and obviously there are a lot of Swans fans going as well.
“I never really played against a big team in Spain, only against Espanyol in a friendly.
“Now we’ve got the challenge, myself and all the Spanish boys, to go and show how good we are individually and as a team.”
Overlooked by his country’s big hitters, Rangel will be looking to make a point.
And Swansea also have something to prove in their first ever campaign in this competition.
Michael Laudrup’s side have successfully negotiated two preliminary rounds in the Europa League.
Now they begin their quest to escape Group A and reach the tournament’s knockout stages.
“Probably they are the number one team in the group, hopefully we will be number two, but if we can get something out of this game maybe we can finish even higher,” said Rangel.
“Valencia used to be, and can still be, the third biggest team in Spain.
“They are not enjoying such good times at the moment, but they have a big fan base and the stadium is big as well.
“Atletico Madrid have pushed ahead of them, and Malaga.
“But you can’t underestimate them.
“They have been in the Champions League, won the Copa Del Ray and playing in Europe is a big chance for them to show that they are still a force.
“But hopefully we can go there and make history again.”
Valencia suffered their third straight defeat when they were beaten 3-1 by Real Betis last weekend.
That followed a 3-1 loss to Espanyol and 3-2 reverse against Barcelona.
“Two weeks ago Barcelona were 2-0 up at the Mestalla, they ended up winning 3-2 and Valencia nearly scored a third,” added Barca fan Rangel.
“That shows you that they are a strong team at home. Away from home they struggle.
“It’s not going to be easy, we know that, but I think the result we got against Liverpool as well as the performance is hopefully going to bring a lot of confidence for Thursday.”