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Downing looking ahead

Published: Thursday 25 November 2004, 11.26CET
Group E: Middlesbrough FC winger Stewart Downing says a win would reap dividends in the last 32.
Published: Thursday 25 November 2004, 11.26CET

Downing looking ahead

Group E: Middlesbrough FC winger Stewart Downing says a win would reap dividends in the last 32.

Group E leaders Middlesbrough FC face Villarreal CF in Spain and coach Steve McClaren is expected to field a full-strength side knowing victory would secure their place in the last 32.

Form team
Middlesbrough are in excellent form in the English Premiership, where they sit fourth, and winger Stewart Downing said: "We're going over there with a full squad and we're aiming to pick up three points. If we win the group we get a better draw."

Difficult evening
Villarreal are expecting a difficult evening, as defender Gonzalo Rodríguez acknowledged when he said: "Middlesbrough are a difficult opponent with some big-name players. Even though we have a small squad we firmly believe we can win. The coach has told us that Middlesbrough are very strong in the air.

Missing men
"English teams like to play down the wings and put crosses over but we have worked on that in training." Roger García, Xisco and Juan Manuel Peña are all missing for Villarreal, who announced the signing of Argentina striker Luciano Figueroa on the eve of the game.

Partizan in Rome
FK Partizan travel to S.S. Lazio in the other match without injured defenders Milivoje Cirkovic and Dragoljub Jeremic as well as midfielder Albert Nadj who has had a disagreement with coach Vladimir Vermezovic.

Call for courage
Despite that, Vermezovic remains optimistic. "Lazio are a great name but they are not in top form and I believe we have a realistic chance," he said. "We are not underestimating them. We will be brave, we will not just defend. We want to stay in the competition and for this home victories are not enough."

Attacking options
Simone Inzaghi and Goran Pandev are fighting for a place alongside Tommaso Rocchi in attack for Lazio, who have scored just once in two outings and need a win to remain realistic contenders. Egaleo FC, with no points from two games, are without a match.

Last updated: 25/11/04 14.05CET

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