Topping the UEFA Cup scoring chart will count for nothing for Walter Pandiani if the centre-forward finishes on the losing side when RCD Espanyol take on Sevilla FC in Wednesday's Glasgow final.
Desire for victory
The Uruguayan's eleven strikes have fired Espanyol to the Hampden Park showpiece, yet their value will depreciate interminably unless the Catalan club can find a way past the holders in the all-Spanish encounter. "If we don't win this trophy, my goals will have meant nothing," the 31-year-old hitman said. "Our objective has not only been to get to the final, but to win it."
Pandiani cannot stress enough that the true goal for Ernesto Valverde's team is to provide an end product to a UEFA Cup campaign which effectively incorporates the efforts of last season's Copa del Rey victory; a consummation for the blue-and-white half of Barcelona. "It is a historic moment for the club, the fans and the players," explained the former RC Deportivo La Coruña player. "We have to repay the fans for everything they have given to us. A final is a final, and this one is massive for our club. You always dream of playing finals and we will be going out there to give absolutely everything.
"We have got to enjoy the occasion. We had to keep this team in the top flight at the end of last season and, although this match is a very difficult one, we have the chance to put the seal on everything we have done." While Sevilla must beware Pandiani, they have a striking talisman of their own in Frédéric Kanouté, whose 19 Primera División goals this term have been supplemented by three in the UEFA Cup. "He wins balls in the air, he can drop deep and run at you, and he has got a lethal shot," warned Moisés Hurtado, Espanyol's homegrown defender.
"But when this team is confident, together and we know what we are doing, we can win any game," continued the 26-year-old. "The experience gained from matches like the Werder Bremen semi-final has been invaluable, and this is an exciting opportunity for us to grasp, not to be afraid of. We are in the best possible form going into this European final, it should be a great occasion and hopefully we'll be able to bring the trophy home to Barcelona."
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