Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini believes his players will enjoy the tactical challenge of trying to break down tonight’s opponents AaB.
“Destroying is easier than creating, in life and in football, and we are needing a great deal of invention in our play to overcome certain teams’ defensiveness,” said the Chilean.
“I’m happy my players are finding answers to the tactical questions being posed and I’m confident we’ll do this against Aalborg. I’ve watched the Danes in three matches, against Celtic, Manchester United and when they played Arhus, and they are a good footballing side who like to avoid the typical long-ball style you often get from Nordic clubs.”
“We are favourites and rightly so,” said Pellegrini. “But football is loved as a world sport for the very reason that favourites don’t always win and Aalborg’s best form comes away from home. Look at how they performed in Glasgow against Celtic.”
Villarreal have injury doubts over Joan Capdevila, Santi Cazorla and Edmilson while Guille Franco should be fit to play.
For visiting coach Bruce Rioch, there is better news with the club’s treatment room beginning to empty.
“We are getting close to a full squad which is a relief,” said Rioch who has Andreas Johansson in contention and Jeppe Curth ready to play on the right. The biggest blow is the continued absence of Kasper Risgard whose goals propelled AaB into the group stages.
Rioch believes that his side must forget about their domestic travails – currently AaB lie second bottom in the Superligaen – and have faith in their abilities.
“The nature of football is that it’s down to us to surprise everyone because this is a fantastic occasion but a really tough challenge,” he said. “One has to have belief.
“Every single time I’ve left a dressing room as player or coach I’ve believed my side can win or at least get a result. Not many gave us a chance at Parkhead but I knew that night that my players believed.”