Javier Yepes has cited the bond which exists in the Castilla y León AMA back four as one of the key reasons why his charges have the potential to become the second team from Spain to lift the UEFA Regions' Cup.
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Javier Yepes has cited the bond which exists in the Castilla y León AMA defence as one of the key reasons why his side have the potential to become the second team representing Spain to win the UEFA Regions' Cup.
Castilla progressed through three Intermediary round matches without conceding and racked up clean sheet number four in defeating Region I AMA 2-0 in Group B on Monday. The Irish side pressurised their opponents in the second half without ever being able to, or looking like, penetrating a back four which Yepes says is "like a family" having played together for so long.
"It consists of players from different clubs but they have played together for three years and not lost in 24 matches," said Yepes, who hopes to emulate Basque Country AMA's triumph in the 2005 final tournament. "I have 24 years' experience at Real Valladolid and I worked with some at youth level and know them very well. They know each other too so there is a very good team spirit which is one of our main strengths."
Out of this world
Kempen AMA are the next team to attempt to breach the Castilla rearguard today at 17.30CET in Jastrebarsko. The Belgian outfit also won on Matchday 1, 1-0 against nine-man Savez Gradiška AMA courtesy of Tom Cox's late goal, a performance coach Francis Jadoulle knows his players must improve upon against Castilla. "I have heard they are playing like they are on another planet," said Jadoulle. "They are excellent. We are underdogs and it will be difficult but we have to take our chances when they arrive."
Region I's second-half efforts against Castilla in temperatures nudging 32C proved fruitless and given the energy his players exerted, manager Gerry Smith is planning to shuffle his pack for the encounter with Savez Gradiška in Samobor. "Over the week with the heat and everything else, everybody will be having a go at some stage," said Smith, who is not dismissing his team's chances of reaching Monday's final. "We got here on five points so we'll still be optimistic but our cup final is on Wednesday – we need to get something out of it. If somebody gets a win and the other game is a draw then who knows?"
Savez Gradiška will be forced into at least two changes following red cards for Goran Zelenac and Slaviša Tepić. "It will not be easy because we have two players suspended," said coach Slobodan Crnadak. "I will start with a defensive formation in that match and will see happens."