First knockout round, second leg (First leg: Villarreal 1-1 Panathinaikos)
Henk Ten Cate believes passion and desire will be the key ingredients required if his Panathinaikos side are to overcome Villarreal and progress to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time.
The Greek club are slight favourites following the impressive 1-1 draw they earned in the first leg at El Madrigal, but Ten Cate insists the tie is still finely poised.
“Both teams have quality, and Villarreal have an extremely strong squad,” he said, who has main striker Vangelis Mantzios available for the first time since the match in Spain after a knee injury. “We have prepared well and we are at home so we have a good chance to qualify. But we will only do it if we are serious in our approach and play with desire and passion.”
The passionate atmosphere generated by a sell-out crowd will play a major role in Pana’s chances according to Ten Cate.
“With the cauldron of passion that our fans will create, I believe we will get the result we want,” said the trainer, who will replace suspended defender Giannis Goumas with Polish international Jakub Wawrzyniak. “As always they will be our 12th man. With those supporters behind us the team is capable of great things.”
“After the first leg the Spanish press wrote that Villarreal had not played better all season,” the Dutchman continued. “Well, now they have to play even better if they want to beat us. We will play to win as always, but we know a goalless draw will take us through.”
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini, who welcomes back Joan Capdevila from suspension, sounded an equally confident note, explaining how his side can turn the tie around.
“I don’t think either team can be considered favourites,” he said. “Panathinaikos have the away goal but we will go for the win. If we can control as much possession as we did in the first game, and convert more of the many chances we always create, then we can get the right result.”
Midfielder Ariel Ibagaza, who impressed in the 1-0 win over Espanyol at the weekend, is expected only to make the bench as Robert Pires was rested with this match in mind.
Despite Giorgos Karagounis’s impressive display in the first leg, Pellegrini said he will not be making special plans to contain the Greece playmaker.
“We have not singled out any players,” he added. “Panathinaikos have good players all over the park and we have to account for all of them, not just focus on one particular individual.”