Villarreal, Spain – Villarreal are out for revenge when they meet old enemies Arsenal in a Spanish-English quarter-final duel in the European Champions League on Tuesday.
Three years ago Arsenal edged past Villarreal into the final of the elite event on a 1-0 aggregate, when Villarreal’s Juan Roman Riquelme had a late penalty dramatically saved by Jens Lehmann.
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini – a man rumoured to be on Real Madrid’s wishlist – said that “we were really unlucky in that game, we could have reached the final.”
The Chilean coach added that “Tuesday’s game will be difficult… but we hope to be able to go to London (for the second leg on April 15) with a useful lead.”
Villarreal go into the quarter-finals without Spain winger Santi Cazorla, who will miss the rest of the season after breaking his right leg in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat away to Almeria.
“Cazorla is an important player for us,” said Pellegrini, “but we have a squad big enough to cover up for his loss.”
The good news for Pellegrini is that midfielders Marcos Senna and Cani, who both took heavy knocks in Almeria, will be fit for Tuesday.
Senna, wily anchorman for Villarreal and Spain, said that “we had a bad day (in Almeria), because of the result and because of Santi… But Tuesday’s game is too important to approach without being in the right frame of mind.”
Villareal are currently fourth in La Liga, the same position Arsenal hold in the Premier League.
Arsenal will arrive at Villarreal’s small Madrigal ground in good heart after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Manchester City, in which Emmanuel Adebeyor and Cesc Fabregas made successful returns from injury.
Right-back Bacary Sagna said that his team is upbeat to overcome the Spanish opponents again.
“Everyone is confident we can win something this season and can go very far… Our form is back, our confidence is really high and we know we can go all the way in the Champions League.”
Sagna added that “the atmosphere is very good at the moment and we are very confident in all the competitions. I know we can go very far in the Champions League and we will try our utmost to do it.”