Champions League: Villarreal eyes win

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Villarreal will need to rediscover its scoring touch against Arsenal on Tuesday to reach its first Champions League final.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Villarreal will need to rediscover its scoring touch against Arsenal on Tuesday to reach its first Champions League final. Trailing 1-0 on Kolo Toure's goal from the first leg of the semifinals last week, Villarreal needs to win by two at its El Madrigal stadium to be sure of advancing to play FC Barcelona or AC Milan in the final. "The team is in good shape, confident and aware that we have to do more than we did at Arsenal's stadium and that is to win by a minimum of 1-0,'' Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini said. "We are here to take the final step, the most important, and reach the final.'' Successful debut But current form suggests that could prove difficult for the small-town team from eastern Spain which has made a surprisingly successful debut in this season's competition. Arsenal hasn't conceded a goal in its past nine games in the competition, equaling the record set by Ajax in 1996. By contrast, Pellegrini's side hasn't scored in its last three matches and has only 12 goals in its 13 Champions League games. Much of the scoring responsibility will fall on Uruguay striker Diego Forlan, the Spanish league's leading scorer last season with 25 goals and Argentina playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme. "If we don't reach the final no one will remember us because only the champion is remembered,'' Riquelme said. "Arsenal is certainly a difficult team. They have a way of defending with only Henry up front. They will play to defend and won't change anything.'' Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger disputed Riquelme's comments and said when his team "has the ball it attacks and when it hasn't it defends.'' Psychological advantage Wenger said his team had "the psychological and scoring advantage'' from the first game. "But to go through you need two good games,'' the coach said. Arsenal, making its first appearance in the Champions League semifinals, believes it can take advantage of Villarreal's need for goals. "I'm hoping they will be a bit more offensive and that will give us more space and we can go at them,'' Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said. Henry confident Arsenal captain Thierry Henry said he had full confidence in his young side, which is unbeaten in its 11 Champions League games this season. "I know the quality of these boys. All the youngsters have grown in confidence,'' Henry told L'Equipe. "With our attacking ability and especially - what for me is the most impressive thing - the fact we are not conceding goals, I can say we are cautiously optimistic.'' Henry and Ljungberg, together with Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue and Alexander Hleb, were left out of the starting lineup in Saturday's 1-1 league draw with Tottenham. Henry came on in the second half to equalize, although the result hurt Arsenal's hopes of a top-four finish and means it may have to win the Champions League to play in next season's competition. Arsenal will be without central defender Philippe Senderos, who hurt his knee against Tottenham, as well as injured fullbacks Lauren and Ashley Cole. Villarreal central defenders Quique Alvarez and Juanma Pena have recovered from injuries, although another central defender, Argentina's Gonzalo Rodriguez, will miss the game because of injury. Jose Mari Romero has recovered from a strained knee ligament. Midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi is suspended for the game, while Riquelme, Juan Pablo Sorin, Marcos Senna and Guillermo Franco will have to be careful as one more yellow card will rule them out of the final if Villarreal qualifies. (AP)

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