There would be no clearer sign of Swansea’s progression in recent years than if they shook off Sunday’s defeat to Cardiff City by securing their progress in the Europa League with the tricky away tie against Kuban Krasnodar.
Manager Michael Laudrup has demanded that his players put the derby defeat behind them and won’t allow the travel to Russia as an excuse joking, “It’s always good to have another game soon after a defeat, but we have to remember it’s another competition.
“Fortunately the game on Thursday is only five hours’ flight away and four hours’ time difference!
“It’s a lot of travelling, but I’ve said it before and I will say again the reason for the European games is that we deserve them — we won the cup last year so we are in Europe.”
A win in Krasnodar could see the Swans into the second round of the competition but Laudrup knows that it will be no easy feat, especially considering the form the Welsh side are in.
A superb start to the continental competition means the only goal they have conceded so far is Djibril Cisse’s injury time penalty kick which cancelled out Michu’s opener but a poor league form in the last month has seen them take just one win in their last five fixtures and a loss to Stoke in the league this weekend could see them amongst the relegation candidates.
Kuban meanwhile have enjoyed the exact opposite to Swansea’s opening form in group A, losing their opening two fixtures, conceding five and with Cisse’s penalty as their only goal scored.
Laudrup is keen to take the League Cup winners into the international break next week with two wins and sees the Russian’s smash and grab draw last time out as inspiration for his players to get a result away before returning to face Stoke.
“We will try to go to Russia and do well because we have some history with them after they scored in the last seconds against us.
“And then we have on Sunday another strong physical team in Stoke at home where, just before the international break, it is a game we really want and need to win.”
Though a win in any of their remaining European fixtures is likely to secure progress as they sit top of the group on seven points, one ahead of Valencia who still have to travel to Wales, Laudrup is keen to remove the pressure from his players and allow the confidence to feed into their league form.
The Danish legend has said that he is giving £12million summer signing Wilfred Bony special treatment to get him up and running in the Premier League after leaving him out for the last two domestic fixtures as he adjusts.
The Ivory Coast international has enjoyed better form in Europe so far this season, scoring four goals in three appearances – the same as Michu.