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Pellegrini ponders tactical challenge

With success comes a raft of new challenges and as Villarreal CF's Manuel Pellegrini prepares to take on Aalborg BK, one of them is how to find a way through a massed defence. "We need a great deal of invention," he said.

Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini ©Getty Images

Along with sustained success comes a flood of new challenges and for Villarreal CF coach Manuel Pellegrini that is all part of the fun of riding high in the UEFA Champions League and sitting joint second in the Liga.

Massed defence
Matchday 3 offers the possibility that beleaguered Danish champions Aalborg BK will park the team bus – as they say in Spain – in front of their goal and defend en masse. Indeed, Pellegrini admitted after the 1-0 Matchday 2 victory over Celtic FC and Saturday's 0-0 draw at RCD Espanyol that stifling his side's now trademark creativity is the favoured tactic of opposition teams. "Destroying is easier than creating, in life and in football, and we are needing a great deal of invention in our play to overcome certain teams' defensiveness," said the Chilean.

Away record
"I'm happy my players are finding answers to the tactical questions being posed and I'm confident we'll do this against Aalborg. I've watched the Danes in three matches, against Celtic, Manchester United and when they played AGF Århus, and they are a good footballing side who like to avoid the typical long-ball style you often get from Nordic clubs." Pellegrini's scouting has also reminded him that AaB, despite struggling domestically and losing at home to the European champions last time out, are unbeaten in their three away matches in the competition this term. "We are favourites and rightly so," began Pellegrini before adding a warning note: "But football is loved as a world sport for the very reason that favourites don't always win and Aalborg's best form comes away from home. Look at how they performed in Glasgow against Celtic."

Injury questions
Villarreal have injury doubts over Joan Capdevila, Santi Cazorla and Edmílson while Guille Franco should be fit to play. Sebastián Eguren, on the other hand, will miss both this and the return game against AaB in November. For visiting coach Bruce Rioch, at least the stream of injuries are decreasing to a trickle. "We are getting close to a full squad which is a relief," said the former Scottish international midfielder who has Andreas Johansson in contention and Jeppe Curth ready to play on the right. The biggest blow is the absence of Kasper Risgård who scored three times in ushering AaB through the qualifying rounds.

'Tough challenge'
Rioch believes that attitude, above all, will determine whether his team, who lie second from bottom in the Superligaen after Saturday's home loss to FC Nordsjælland, can take anything from El Madrigal. "The nature of football is that it's down to us to surprise everyone because this is a fantastic occasion but a really tough challenge," he said. "One has to have belief.

Jakobsen back
"Every single time I've left a dressing room as player or coach I've believed my side can win or at least get a result. Not many gave us a chance at Parkhead but I knew that night that my players believed." Defender Michael Jakobsen returns after a suspension incurred that evening and Rioch added: "We have learned through recent adversity and I'm looking forward to a great game of football."