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Champions League Preview : Villarreal v Panathinaikos

Now we are starting to the business end of the competition. This first leg of the last 16 clash will be played in El Madrigal tomorrow. We have regained some form and seem to have recovered our playing style that was so successful last season. Players like Rossi, Ibagaza, Cani and Santi have all stepped it up in recent weeks and we are beginning to look like a top four side again. As Maddi pointed out our squad is fairly depleted in the defensive department with Gonzalo and Capdevila missing. Apart from Guille Franco we have a full pick over the rest of the field.

Our opponents Panathinaikos have also been spluttering their way through their league campaign and they currently sit 12 points behind their rivals Olimpiakos. However they will be no pushover and as most pundits will tell you, there are no easy games in Europe anymore. Panathinaikos finished top of their group and one of their more notable victories was a 0-1 win over Inter Milan in the San Siro. They have a very respected manager in Henk Ten Cate and in former Arsenal man Gilberto Silva they have a wealth of experience. He along with Karagounis will be the anchor men for the Greek side and I expect Pellegrini to line up with Senna and Eguren in order to counter the physical presence of the aforementioned.

On the other hand he may stick with the formation he used this weekend which saw Cani line up alongside Senna in the middle of the park. This certainly offers a bit more creativity but Cani doesn't bring the defensive qualities that Eguren can count on. In defense the only real doubt is to who will line up at left back, Bruno or Angel. Fuentes will surely partner Godin with Javi Venta on the right. I think Pires and Santi will be the attacking midfielders with Llorente partnering the inform Giuseppe Rossi upfront.


Venta - Fuentes - Godin - Bruno/Angel

Cazorla - Cani/Eguren - Senna -Pires

Llorente - Rossi

If we have any hope of progressing than a win with a clean sheet is vital here. We do not want to have to go to Greece looking for goals as it will be very very difficult there. We should go out to attack and try and give ourselves a good platform for the second leg. Unfortunately I will miss the game due to Gaelic training but there should be a wide range of streams available. I think that this game is a perfect opportunity for us to re-stamp our claim as potential winners, a good performance tomorrow and we will be right on track. I have a very good feeling about this game and I think it has come at a good time for us. Thats all for now! Endavant!