Footballers traditionally love nothing better than putting one over on the club which sold them and Villarreal CF's Giuseppe Rossi is no different, predicting a "great Villarreal performance" against Manchester United FC.
Article top media content
For Giuseppe Rossi the visit of Manchester United FC to El Madrigal on Matchday 5 should be something akin to celebrating your birthday and Christmas on the same day.
The 21-year-old Villarreal CF striker welcomes team-mates and friends having spent three years as a United player and footballers traditionally love nothing better than putting one over on the club which sold them. Add the facts that Rossi recently made his first starting appearance for Italy and has also equalled Villarreal's club record, set by Juan Román Riquelme, after scoring in four consecutive matches and it is clear he is on form. There should be a broad smile on his face.
The flipside is that the Yellow Submarine's unbeaten start to the season was ripped apart by Real Valladolid CF at the weekend thanks to a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat, Villarreal have also crashed out of the Copa del Rey, losing 6-1 on aggregate to underdogs Club Polideportivo Ejido and after Rossi's performance for Italy during the 1-1 draw with Greece his international coach, Marcello Lippi, commented that the famous blue shirt seemed to "weigh heavily" on the player's shoulders. Rossi wants to exorcise his frustrations in the most difficult of environments. "This is a very tough game because, in my opinion, United are the strongest team in the world," he confirmed. "I know them and I admire them, plus the three years I spent at United were happy ones. It's a club with a lot of good football people at it but our aim is to beat them and to win the group."
Rossi finds it confusing that the three previous meetings between these clubs in the UEFA Champions League have yet to produce a single goal, but he is sure that odd statistic will disappear on Matchday 5. "We'll show no fear and my anticipation is that our fans are going to see a great Villarreal performance. It's a meeting of two very different footballing styles in that United, like all good English teams, play with great speed and physicality. We'll have to be careful not to get caught on the counterattack. This time, with the group leadership at stake, the game will be open and exciting."
Even if key players such as Joseba Llorente and Dimitar Berbatov are missing due to injury there will be no lack of quality on show. Marcos Senna, Santi Cazorla, Robert Pirès, Carlos Tévez and Wayne Rooney can assure that. But teams who come up against Sir Alex Ferguson's European champions often find that there is a mental as well as a physical power to face. Rossi is undaunted. "One of the keys to our success in European competitions has been our mentality. This is a really good team unit, we are extremely positive in how we try to play the game and we have dangerous players all over the pitch."