Swansea City plan to ram home Europa League advantage
BY 10pm tomorrow, Swansea City may be only one victory away from the last 32 of the Europa League.
A couple of months back, Michael Laudrup's men were like the new kids at school in this competition.
But having passed each test to date with flying colours, Swansea already look good for a prolonged European run.
Swansea are still finding out about Europe, still soaking up information on contrasting opponents and trying to find ways to overcome them.
Tomorrow night's meeting with St Gallen represents another step into the unknown, the latest duel with a team who Swansea know little about.
The scenario is similar for the supporters, who will head for Landore wondering how steep a challenge a team from the Swiss Super league will present.
If the bookmakers are to be believed, it will be far from insurmountable.
Swansea are heavily odds-on to chalk up victory tomorrow, with St Gallen as long as 8-1 with some bookies to leave the Liberty with three points.
If Laudrup's team can deliver victory, they will move into pole position in Group A.
Swansea have already seized the initiative in their qualifying pool thanks to that sparkling victory in Valencia last month.
Now comes the opportunity to ram home the advantage that success ought to give them.
Win tomorrow and Swansea are sure to be three points clear at the top of the group given that St Gallen saw off Kuban Krasnodar in their opening game.
And if Swansea can make it six points from six, they will already be on the brink of progressing to the post-Christmas stage of the Europa League.
Laudrup told his players before Valencia that victories in their three home games would be enough to carry them out of the group.
If the Dane has got it right — and he has considerably more European experience than anyone else in these parts — Swansea will require only one more maximum from four remaining fixtures to clinch a top-two spot if they can see off St Gallen.
The records back Laudrup up to an extent.
In the 12 Europa League groups last season, five of the second-placed sides finished with nine points or fewer.
The average tally needed to end up second was fractionally over ten.
Swansea, therefore, may need to find a couple more results even if St Gallen are beaten just to make absolutely sure.
What is not in doubt, however, is that the Swiss side's visit is key in Laudrup's eyes.
The Swansea boss is keen for a victory following back-to-back defeats by Birmingham City and Arsenal.
And he is desperate to capitalise on what happened in Valencia by making it two wins from two.
Memories of the Mestalla will be tainted, after all, if Swansea do not make that victory count.