Maximum excitement
Maximum excitement

Javi Calleja and Santi Cáseres are sure it will be an ‘exciting’ tie against Valencia

Villarreal manager Javi Calleja underlined his optimism ahead of the European duel with Valencia at the Estadio de la Cerámica (Thursday, 9pm CEST). “We’re not thinking in the league, we’re only thinking about this game and nothing else. We’re fully motivated and what has happened in the league won’t affect us in this tie. Getting through to the next would would be great in what’s been a difficult year. I think the team is strong mentally and are keen for the game. No-one is going to beat us in terms of excitement and we are going into the big knockout tie in a strong place,” commented Calleja.

The coach from Madrid underlined the potential of the opponents: “I’m expecting a solid opponent. Valencia are a team who are secure in how they play and it’s hard to make them lose their organisation. We know each other well and it’s a derby. We’re conscious that to get past them we will need to be very good over the two legs.”

For Calleja, staying calm will be key: “We shouldn’t go mad in these 90 minutes, we are going to go out and have an intelligent game, knowing that we’ve still got the match at Mestalla to come. A win would give us an advantage, but it’s important to not let a goal in at home, keeping a clean sheet is one of the keys. I think that they will be two good legs, I think those watching will have fun. We’re enjoying ourselves in this competition and we want to continue like this, they go into the tie as favourites and we don’t have the pressure that we do have in the league.”

Cáseres: “We’ve earned this opportunity and we want to make the most of it”

The other man to take centre stage in the Estadio de la Cerámica press room was Santi Cáseres. The Argentine midfielder underlined that the team is excited about the UEFA Europa League: “We’re very excited. We need to continue the path we’ve been taking in this competition, making sure we take it seriously and play like we’ve done in the other ties, hoping for a win and to not concede.”

The Submarine will go for everything. “It’s been a tough week in the league, and we’ve received blows, but in derbies like this, everything changes and we go into it the match differently. It’s a big competition, a prestigious competition and we’re in the quarter-finals, so we need to separate it from the league and think of doing something big. We’ve earned this opportunity and we want to make the most of it.”

For Cáseres, a derby is always special: “It’s true that this match is more complicated than previous rounds, they’re an opponent who know us, an opponent who are coming into the game strong in the league and that are good in the cups. They’re a team with a lot of potential, but we’re in a good place, we’re calm and we’ve shown that we’re a strong team in Europe.”

According to the Yellows No.5, defensive security will be very important: “I think that it’s important that they don’t score against us, it’s important to keep a clean sheet and that they don’t score here. If it’s like that, we can be calm and try and score there. We’re in a good place in the Europa League and we’re in the quarters against a great opponent and we’re playing in a derby. We’re calm and ready for it.”

To listen to Calleja and Cáseres’ press conference in full (in Spanish), just click the video tab.