Villarreal CF playmaker Juan Román Riquelme wants to be man-marked by two Rangers FC players in their UEFA Champions League return tonight.
Having scored from the penalty spot and set up a goal for team-mate Diego Forlán in the Spanish side's 2-2 first-leg draw in Glasgow, the Argentinian international also struck twice in a 3-2 weekend win against Deportivo Alavés. Clearly not lacking in confidence, he hopes the Scottish champions are tempted to double up defensively this time around.
"If Rangers put a lot of effort into stopping me influencing the game, then the rest of the Villarreal team will have empty spaces to work in and they will take full advantage," he told uefa.com. "We don't just rely on one player. We are a team, and if Rangers put two men on me it will be a good thing."
With two away goals in Villarreal's favour, Riquelme exudes optimism, although the 27-year-old admits the situation could have been even better. The Primera División club missed a host of chances a fortnight ago and the No8 hopes they are not left to rue their profligacy tonight.
Riquelme said: "The first-leg draw was a good result but it could have been much better. We had the perfect opportunity to finish the tie. In the end, by conceding a second goal, we didn't secure the result we wanted. A 2-2 draw was OK, but it is still a very open tie."
Not over yet
With Rangers very much in the contest, Riquelme warns against underestimating Alex McLeish's men. "You can never say for certain that you will win a game before it's been played," he said. "Rangers are not a bad side so they have a chance to upset us.
"Even though the Scottish Premier League is small compared to the Primera División, I think the standard is still high," he added. "
Rangers would be a top-flight team in Spain. They have very good individual players and they understand the game just as well as the so-called top European sides.
"Rangers hit the ball long more often than most teams we play, but it doesn't mean they don't have players who can control the ball and produce quality passes. I think their direct approach is a tactic they think will work against us."
However, Manuel Pellegrini's team have not lost at home in the league since a 2-0 reverse against FC Barcelona in early December, and according to Riquelme, they are in no mood to pass up the opportunity of making the quarter-finals of Europe's premier competition at their El Madrigal stadium.
"I believe Villarreal will win this match," he said. "We have a very good side who are determined to do our very best in the UEFA Champions League. This is our chance to make history for this club. I am sure we will do a good job in this match.
"The main priority is to keep a clean sheet. If we take care defensively and achieve that, we are through. If we score on top of that, it will be job done. I am confident we will progress. In my mind we have to get to the quarter-finals because we may never have a better opportunity."
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