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Odense urged to show courage against Villarreal

While Odense BK are happy to accept that Villarreal CF will be favourites in their play-off tie, OB midfielder Andreas Johansson is keen to drum home the importance of "wanting the ball".

Odense eliminated Panathinaikos in the third qualifying round
Odense eliminated Panathinaikos in the third qualifying round ©Erik Kempf

They may have been impressive victors against Panathinaikos FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round but there appears little danger of Odense BK getting ahead of themselves as they take on Villarreal CF in the play-offs.

Although Odense can draw on recent experience of facing Spanish opposition – a 2-0 defeat and a 1-1 draw against Getafe CF in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage – they are all too aware of the test the Yellow Submarine will pose. Midfielder Hans Henrik Andreasen knows Juan Carlos Garrido's side, fourth in the 2010/11 Spanish Liga, will demand a step up in class.

"I don't think we can draw on our games with Getafe too much," he said. "It has been a whole year and we have developed a lot. Also, Villareal belong to the opposite end of the Spanish league table. They play fast and with good combinations, so we will probably have to run after them a lot!"

In midfielder Andreas Johansson, though, OB do have a player with direct knowledge of Villarreal, the Swede having encountered them in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage while playing for Aalborg BK. "We will have to accept periods of the game where we are not in possession," he said. "But it is crucial we don't just stand there and watch them play.

"In matches like this it is important that you have the courage to play and to want the ball. If you do not, you don't stand a chance. Obviously Villareal are huge favourites but we believe in our chances." OB striker Peter Utaka is doubtful is defender Tore Raginiussen, while left-back Bernard Mendy is suspended.

For Villarreal's Gonzalo, last term's Danish Superliga runners-up present a more familiar threat. A veteran of the teams' 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup tie – OB lost 5-0 on aggregate – the Argentina defender is nevertheless treading carefully. "They have big, tough players and you mustn't forget they knocked out Panathinaikos. If we don't treat the tie seriously we're going to have a difficult time."

The expected availability of Marcos Senna, Carlos Marchena and Nilmar could make Garrido's job easier, although Ángel López remains absent with a cruciate ligament injury sustained in January. Gonzalo is calling for a concerted effort from his side, UEFA Champions League semi-finalists in 2006 yet missing from the competition since 2008/09.

"This squad deserves to be competing in the biggest club tournament in the world," he said. "A lot of the players here haven't been fortunate enough to have that opportunity. To play against teams like Manchester United or Inter is a chance we have to take."