Villarreal CF's forwards may steal the limelight, but goalkeeper Diego López is content to play the quiet man if it means the Yellow Submarine overcome FC Twente and reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.
Signed from Real Madrid CF in 2007, the 29-year-old is Villarreal's Mr Consistent; Saturday's 1-0 loss to FC Barcelona was his 111th consecutive Spanish Liga appearance, and he is the only Villarreal player to have featured in every minute of their UEFA Europa League campaign since the group stage, conceding nine goals in ten games.
"I've been lucky enough not to have suffered an injury or been sent off in that time," said Diego López, who made two Liga outings for Madrid. "What I would like now is to increase my appearance record and to give my all for the club. I am delighted with my performances as well as the team's. We are doing really well."
Fourth in Spain and hoping to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League, Villarreal's success owes much to the goals of strikers Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar, yet Diego López feels their defensive rigour deserves a mention. "
This year we have played some very strong teams and we have shown we are willing to give everything in defence, which is something the whole team gains from," he said.
"We're now nearing the end of the season and we've some really attractive games coming up which will boost everyone – much will be asked of us," the once-capped Spanish international added. "This is the point of the season when players produce their best."
SSC Napoli and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have already found Villarreal too hot to handle since the UEFA Europa League knockout phase began, so Dutch champions FC Twente should be aware of Juan Carlos Garrido's side's resilience ahead of Thursday's first leg at El Madrigal. Villarreal have won all six European home matches this term, although Diego López thinks they are no less dangerous away.
"We know we can go to any stadium in Europe and get a win while at home we are very strong," he said. "We've got a chance of lifting this trophy, like every other team left in the competition. In the last two rounds, we did well against two very tricky sides and now we face Twente. The tie will be very open with both teams believing they can get through."
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