VALENCIA (Reuters) – Valencia coach Marcelino urged their supporters to avoid complacency and fill the Mestalla stadium for his side’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against fellow Spaniards Villarreal even though they hold a 3-1 lead in the tie.
“The team need the support and the help of the fans, we have a Europa League semi-final within our grasp and we’re going to have difficult moments,” Marcelino told a news conference ahead of Thursday’s game.
“We’re going to have to dig deep, the teams are very even and we’ll need to make a huge effort so I hope there are lots of people supporting our players from the first minute until the last.”
He added: “We have the tie in our hands with a result we would all have signed up for before, but if we concede first we could start to doubt ourselves, so we have to prevent that from happening at all costs.”
Marcelino said he expected captain Dani Parejo to return from a muscle problem but that forward Rodrigo Moreno, defender Cristiano Piccini and goalkeeper Jaume Domenech were unavailable, along with French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia.
Yet even after warning that the tie was not over, he said he would rotate his side against Villarreal to ensure his players do not suffer from fatigue in the final stages of the season.
Meanwhile, Jose Gaya, Goncalo Guedes, Francis Coquelin and Mouctar Diakhaby are all one yellow card away from being suspended in the semi-final first leg, where Valencia would face Napoli or Arsenal should they progress.
“We’re going to keep on rotating players, we can’t play every game with the same players, we’ll try to use everyone available in this final stretch,” he said.
“We’ll try to make sure we don’t have any more problems and don’t get any players suspended, but we’ll have to see what we decide because we already have a lot of players with knocks, players who are tired and every day something new happens.”
Villarreal coach Javi Calleja admitted his side had an almighty task in front of them after their first-leg defeat, but recalled that his team have taken points from the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid this season.
“We know it’s a heavy scoreline and it’s difficult but not impossible,” he said.
“As long as there is a chance we’re going to fight to try and pull off the feat. We have a good enough team to strike fear into them and we have proved this year that we can score goals and cause problems for any side.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)