An extremely tough continental opener
An extremely tough continental opener

Unai Emery underlines the challenge of facing a ‘great’ Atalanta team as the UEFA Champions League returns to the Estadio de la Cerámica (Tuesday, 9pm CEST)

Villarreal CF head coach Unai Emery appeared in front of the media this lunchtime to analyse the game against Atalanta BC, the Yellows’ opener for the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season at the Estadio de la Cerámica (9pm CEST, live on Movistar+ Liga de Campeones in Spain). The Basque head coach was positive about recovering various footballers, and how the team has prepared in recent days for a tough game against a complicated opponent to face.

The opposition

“It’s the first time that we are going to face Atalanta. They’re a team like Villarreal, with a recent history in the Champions League and growth since Gasperini arrived, he has taken them to the top four in Italy and got them into the Champions League. We are excited to be facing them and to start our Champions League campaign at the Estadio de la Cerámica. We want to take on the challenge of facing a great Atalanta side and show what we’re capable of doing.”

The aim

“The aim is to win every match. It’s a short competition, over six games, with some at home and some away. The favourites are Manchester United, and then Atalanta, because they’re a very strong opposition, then it’s us and Young Boys. We can’t differentiate between each game, because in each one of them the three points are unique and you always need to try and get them.”

State of the squad

“We’ve got some footballers back, who hadn’t had pre-season because of COVID-19 or because of injury. The tea mis ready to be able to prepare the games and try and be at their best in every moment. I see really keen people, people ready to perform. It’s great to see how the squad works. This means I have to demand more of myself, I need to get things right and know how to read the match depending on the opponent.”

Dani Parejo and Gerard Moreno

“Parejo’s injury is behind him. He’s been training with the group for two weeks and he’s feeling good. Dani brings us experience and stability in terms of play and what that means is that he’s an important player in high-level matches. He’s ready to play. In midfield, he has a number of things that help the team. Gerard Moreno is also good. He came back from his national team with some discomfort, we gave him two or three days rest. He’s trained as normal. Not having played has given us more time to train and he’s in good shape.”