x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Twente can still reach Europa League semi-finals

Borja Valero, the Villarreal playmaker, admits their 5-0 hammering by Valencia will give their Dutch opponents some hope of turning around a 5-1 first-leg deficit.

Borja Valero, the Villarreal playmaker, admits Sunday’s 5-0 hammering by Valencia may offer FC Twente a glimmer of hope that they can pull off a stunning turnaround in their Europa League quarter-final second-leg.

The Yellow Submarine put one foot into the semi-finals with an emphatic 5-1 win over the Dutch league leaders last week.

However, they were on the receiving end of a beating of their own at the weekend as local rivals and fellow Champions League hopefuls Valencia ran riot at La Mestalla in their Primera Liga clash.

Valero, therefore, insists Juan Carlos Garrido’s side will be extra sharp in Enschede as they bid to secure a last-four spot against Porto or Spartak Moscow.

“We’re alert for the game against Twente and I’m sure we will have a good game in Holland to finish the tie,” said the former West Brom midfielder.

“I’m sure it will motivate Twente a little to see the league result, but we had a bad day [on Sunday] and not every day is a party, so we’re going to have to do well to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Villarreal stunned the Eredivisie leaders with two goals from Nilmar and Carlos Marchena, Valero and Giuseppe Rossi adding one each in Castellon last week.

Twente pulled a late goal back through Marc Janko to give them a small chance for the second-leg but Villarreal remain overwhelming favourites to progress.

Garrido will be without six players for the match, including key attackers Nilmar and Santi Cazorla, who are both suspended, while Marcos Senna, Gonzalo, Angel Lopez and Xavi Oliva are all injured.

Jose Manuel Catala recently returned after injury and said: “The key to the game is going to be the first 20 minutes. If we can get hold of the ball and stop them scoring we will have taken a big step.

“They will come out on the attack and won’t worry so much about defending, so it will be very important for us to take advantage of our chances on the counter-attack.

“What happened on Sunday (defeat to Valencia) was a serious warning that we can’t relax at all on Thursday. Twente will do everything to get back in the tie, but we must be calm in the knowledge we are doing things well and not lose confidence.”

Twente hope to have striker Janko available while Denny Landzaat should be fit for the clash.

Other Europa League ties

Spartak Moscow v FC Porto (agg 1-5)

Braga v Dynamo Kiev (agg 1-1)

PSV Eindhoven v Benfica (agg 1-4)