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Beset by injuries and still without a point in the UEFA Champions League, Villarreal CF are determined to rise above their problems as they take on Manchester City FC. Sergio Agüero scored an added-time winner when the sides met on matchday three, and Roberto Mancini believes the Premier League leaders are in the midst of their "best moment in 20 years".
Coach Juan Carlos Garrido
We know we are up against a great team and we know how well they have been doing in their league, but knowing that will help us to focus on the game. Playing a team like Manchester City should give players a reason to give 100%, and we will do our best to win; we have to play the match of our lives.
Obviously our situation is difficult with injuries, but that is nothing new as we've had injury problems since the start of the season. The 11 players on the pitch will give it everything they've got. The way to win is to make the best use of the resources we have available. We have young players and we should make the most of them.
Young players dream of playing games like this, and your mindset has to be to play to the death. With the odds against us, Villarreal will become stronger and fight harder. These young players are eager to show how great they are. Two weeks ago we deserved more [in Manchester] but we have two options: let our heads drop or grow up, and that's what we will try to do.
Saturday: Villarreal 2-0 Rayo Vallecano de Madrid (Bruno Soriano 20, Valero 67)
López; Zapata, Gonzalo, Musacchio, Catalá; Borja Valero, Senna (Gaspar 49), Bruno, De Guzmán, Cani (Camuñas 24); Ruben (Pérez 49)
• Bruno Soriano's first Liga goal, on his 129th appearance, helped secure a first win in eight matches and only Villarreal's third in 19 games.
Giuseppe Rossi is out until April after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Cani, Cristián Zapata and Nilmar also have knee injuries, and are joined on the sidelines by Javier Camuñas (bruised fibula), Marco Ruben (adductor) and Marcos Senna (hamstring). Ángel López, out since January with a cruciate injury, is available again.
Manager Roberto Mancini
I get the feeling that this is a good moment for the players and maybe the best moment in 20 years for the club because we're at the top of the league table and we're playing in the Champions League. But if we want to stay at the top we know we have to work harder and to improve certain things.
But we're now very confident and the [winning] goal against Villarreal was very important because Villarreal have been in the Champions League for a long time. For most of my players this is the first time they have played in the competition. The Champions League is a special competition and I would say that every game is harder than the matches we play in the Premier League.
Our target is to reach the second stage and I think that if we get there we can maybe go on and do something good. El Madrigal is a very difficult pitch to play on, a lot of big teams have had problems here because the supporters are very close to their team. If we want to win we'll have to produce a strong performance and even if Villarreal are missing four or five players we know it will be a difficult game.
Saturday: Manchester City 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC (Džeko 52, Kolarov 67, Johnson 90+1; Hunt 75pen)
Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Silva, Y Touré, Barry, Nasri (Balotelli 71); Agüero (Savić 76), Džeko (Johnson 63)
• Micah Richards made his 200th appearance for the club, and 150th in the Premier League, as City maintained their five-point lead at the summit despite the 74th-minute dismissal of Vincent Kompany.
"We have no injury problems at all," said Mancini on Tuesday.
Villarreal had never lost three successive European fixtures before this campaign and know a fourth defeat will eliminate them with two games to play.
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