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In little over a year Diego Perotti has gone from a reserve-team player learning his trade to a full Argentinian international plotting Sevilla FC's path to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Last February, Perotti was a virtual ever-present as Sevilla's B team battled relegation from Spain's Segunda División, but 13 months on he is a regular with Manuel Jiménez's senior side. He made his national-team debut against Spain in November and now the 21-year-old is looking to build on a 1-1 first-leg draw against PFC CSKA Moskva. "I feel good," he said. "Perhaps I lost my edge after playing so many matches but after the [winter] break I have picked up again. I really want to get back to my best; the sort of form I was in at the beginning of the season."
That form saw the versatile Perotti edge ahead of Diego Capel, a fellow B-team graduate, in the pecking order for Sevilla's left-wing berth. It has been a productive rivalry, the pair pushing each other to new heights. Capel forced his way into the starting XI for the first leg in Moscow before Perotti reclaimed his place, further staking his claim by teeing up Federico Fazio's goal in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home against RC Deportivo La Coruña.
The youngsters are both ultimately after the same thing, however. "I will give 100% to get to the quarter-finals," said Perotti. "All games are different; you prepare for them in different ways and the CSKA match will be a step up considering the importance of the result and the prestige that goes with it."
For Perotti, home advantage will be "crucial" and every Sevilla player "knows the importance of the match", though a run of four games without a win starting with the first leg means he is not getting ahead of himself. "We have a slender advantage but we shouldn't be over-confident. We will play as if the score was still 0-0. [CSKA] are a hard team, and are equally aware of the reward if they beat us. But first, they have to score."
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