Swansea have won many plaudits at home, now for abroad.
Two years ago when Swansea City were about to embark on their Premier League adventure, not many would have imagined they would be playing European football two years down the line.
Along the way they have had a managerial change, won a trophy along with consolidating their top flight status, and are now mixing it amongst some better teams in Europe.
Having completed a 4-0 aggregate win over Malmo, Swansea find themselves 180 minutes away from the group stages of this season’s Europa League, with Romanian Cup winners Petrolul Ploiesti their opponents, a tie you would think the Swans would fancy their chances of winning.
Throughout their time in the Premier League thus far, Swansea have had a style that controls games, very comfortable on the ball. Controlling games with possession has been key to a lot of sides being successful in Europe down the years, just look at Barcelona – if Swansea believe what they have done so far at home can work abroad then they could flourish.
Another factor that would determine how far Swansea will go is Laudrup’s situation management. The big example seen of that so far during his time in the dugout in South Wales was in the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
After taking a 2-0 lead from Stamford Bridge, Laudrup’s men could even afford to lose the second leg by a single goal, but in this game he knew he only needed to stifle the opposition.
They were solid defensively and when in possession they kept it simple, making it hard for Chelsea to have any sort of substantial command of the game. Furthermore, the attributes of much of the Swansea squad could suit to playing on the counter-attack, especially away from home in Europe – if their defensive unit remains solid and disciplined enough.
A lot will depend on where Laudrup thinks the club’s resources are best used. Does he feel the competition will be a distraction for his side from the domestic campaign, or will he see it as an opportunity for the club to impress on the European stage?
Hopefully it will be the latter and the Swans make a good run of it, because they have every chance of getting through the group stages with a kind enough draw – and they would be awkward for any side to face over two legs in the knockout stages. They could well have a very good run in Europe.
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