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By Tom Kington in Rome
AS Roma will dig deep on Thursday in the UEFA Cup fourth round second-leg game against Villarreal CF in a bid to overturn a two-goal deficit and make it to the quarter-finals at the expense of the free-scoring debutants.
The Spanish side arrived in Italy riding high after eliminating Galatasaray SK in the previous round and overcoming Roma 2-0 with relative ease a fortnight ago. Villarreal entered this competition as winners of the UEFA Intertoto Cup, and coach Francisco García has called for more of the same at the Stadio Olimpico. "It would be great to put in the same performance on Thursday that we put in at home against Roma," he said.
'Versatility and speed'
García's opposite number, Fabio Capello, has a plan to put a stop to Villarreal's charge towards the last eight. "Being two goals up, Villarreal will look to play calmly and we will need versatility and speed to overcome that, without letting them launch counterattacks - which are their strong point," he said.
The Roma coach can call on five players who missed the first leg - Francesco Totti, Cristian Chivu, Olivier Dacourt, Vincent Candela and Marco Delvecchio - and could unleash a striking partnership of Totti and young pretender Antonio Cassano. Another option could see Marco Delvecchio or Vincenzo Montella added to form a three-pronged attack with Totti operating from a deeper role. Capello was giving nothing away on Wednesday, but did hint that he might switch his attacking formation as the game progresses.
If they are to overcome the odds, Roma's defence will need to tighten up after Brazilian Sonny Anderson and Spaniard José Mari Romero capitalised on the space afforded them to score at the Madrigal a fortnight ago. "
We did not underestimate Villarreal in the first leg," said Capello. "They are a team of quality players who are taking their chance at the club."
Villarreal are without midfield players Josico and Javier Calleja Revilla in addition to striker Víctor Fernández. García also needs to assess the fitness of the first-leg scorers in training before deciding whether they can play. UEFA Cup success is on the verge of being imperative for the Spanish side as recent defeats by CA Osasuna and Sevilla FC have seen them slip to ninth in the Primera División.
The hosts will also be desperate to advance, as their season now looks a lot less rosy than it did two weeks ago when Roma were in hot pursuit of league leaders AC Milan. Now, though, the Giallarossi are ten points behind the European champions, albeit with a game in hand following the abandonment of last Sunday's Rome derby. "Roma were still concentrating on the league ahead of the first leg," said García. "Now they may have turned their sights on the UEFA Cup."
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