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Defiant Dossena heralds round of 32 openers

Published: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 16.01CET
Andrea Dossena believes his SSC Napoli side can "hurt anybody" as they face Villarreal CF, with Liverpool FC boss Kenny Dalglish also keen to make a round of 32 splash on Thursday.
Defiant Dossena heralds round of 32 openers
Andrea Dossena believes Napoli can 'hurt anyone' in the round of 32 ©Getty Images
 
 
Published: Wednesday 16 February 2011, 16.01CET

Defiant Dossena heralds round of 32 openers

Andrea Dossena believes his SSC Napoli side can "hurt anybody" as they face Villarreal CF, with Liverpool FC boss Kenny Dalglish also keen to make a round of 32 splash on Thursday.

Some of Europe's top clubs are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, but SSC Napoli left-back Andrea Dossena is adamant his side have the beating of them all.

The team sitting second in Serie A take on Villarreal CF at home in one of Thursday's 15 first-leg ties, and Dossena fancies their chances. "We know we can hurt anybody," said the 29-year-old. "I have read interviews with some Villarreal players who say they will come here to win and that's good. But we are Napoli, we have what it takes to beat them. When you go onto the field at Liverpool [FC], you read 'This is Anfield'; for this game, our slogan will be 'This is Napoli'."

Former Liverpool man Dossena may be interested to see how his old club fare in their first European match since Kenny Dalglish's return as manager. Steven Gerrard, Christian Poulen and Daniel Agger miss the trip to AC Sparta Praha through injury, yet Dalglish said: "It will be a difficult game for us, but hopefully it will be twice as difficult for them." Sparta coach Jozef Chovanec added: "This game means a lot to Sparta and to Czech football in general."

With seven-goal Falcao scorching a trail to the top of the competition's scoring charts, FC Porto cruised through the group stage. Sevilla FC's own progress was anything but smooth, and with the Spanish side stuck in eighth place at home, the pressure is on against the visiting Portuguese outfit. "This is the biggest match of our season," said home striker Luís Fabiano. "We know a win could change everything. We are struggling but are the same players that won the UEFA Cup twice and we're in this together."

KKS Lech Poznán may have more than SC Braga to contend with as they resume their quest, with freezing temperatures expected in Poland, though hopefully not as bone-chilling as those in which José Maria Bakero's men earned a 1-1 draw against Juventus in December. The former FC Barcelona midfielder expects both teams to be working too hard to feel the cold, insisting: "If anyone is freezing on the pitch it must mean they are ill."

Further south, Bernd Schuster is looking forward to his Beşiktaş JK charges entertaining FC Dynamo Kyiv, with the experienced coach explaining: "The Europa League is a very important competition for our club. We have performed better here than we have in our domestic league and want to continue our successful run."

BSC Young Boys, meanwhile, have the daunting task of facing FC Zenit St Petersburg, the only side to take a maximum 18 points in the group stage. Coach Vladimir Petković was defiant, though. "We are optimistic. This is a good test for us against one of the strongest teams in the Europa League." Asked about his proposed formation, he revealed cryptically: "We will have 11 players on the pitch."

Over in Scotland, Rangers FC are awaiting Sporting Clube de Portugal, hoping that the departure of leading marksman Kenny Miller for Bursaspor will not stifle them. "Sporting are a good side, yet they have had to sell a couple of important players this season," said manager Walter Smith. "Like us, they lost their top goalscorer [Liedson, who joined SC Corinthians] in January."

Last updated: 17/02/11 16.12CET

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