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Gonzalo Rodríguez is backing Villarreal CF to shake off their problems in UEFA Champions League Group A, with the defender urging some of his lesser-spotted team-mates to seize the opportunity to make their names against Manchester City FC.
Sergio Agüero's added-time goal on matchday three condemned the Yellow Submarine to a third successive defeat in the section, with luck having seemingly deserted them on the injury front too. They go into Wednesday's game at El Madrigal without star striker Giuseppe Rossi – out until April with cruciate ligament damage – as well as first–team regulars Cani (knee), Marco Ruben (adductor), Marcos Senna (hamstring) and Nilmar, who has not played since knee surgery in early October.
Against opponents still buzzing from a 6-1 win against Manchester United FC at Old Trafford two weekends back, Juan Carlos Garrido's men might be tempted to abandon all hope. Gonzalo, though, believes Villarreal are made of sterner stuff.
"We will fight to win, even though we have a lot of injuries," said the 27-year-old Argentinian international, now in his eighth season in eastern Spain. "All those players who have not had many opportunities to impress will seize their chance and give everything for victory.
There are always games where you have to give more than 100% and this is one of them. The absences of Rossi and Nilmar will affect us but it is still a great chance for other quality players to show what they can do."
Although they sit bottom of the group, four points adrift of their third-ranked visitors, nothing is set in stone for Villarreal just yet. However, a fourth defeat could easily put dreams of another tilt at the round of 16 beyond them; should City and SSC Napoli win this week, Villarreal would be certain to finish last. It is a fate Gonzalo is keen to avoid. "City are a great team but we can win this game," he said. "We have trained hard, we are looking forward with optimism, and now we have to prove what we are capable of."
Gonzalo himself can expect a torrid night if David Silva continues his livewire form for Roberto Mancini's side, although the centre-back thinks Villarreal have the wherewithal to keep the former Valencia CF playmaker at bay. "Silva is a great player and is in excellent shape, but we have players like Bruno Soriano in great shape too," he said. "They can stop this kind of player and ensure there is no space to play in."
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