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Escriba urges cool heads in Monaco

Fran Escriba is confident Villarreal can turn around a faltering start to his reign as head coach and overcome Monaco in the Champions League play-offs.

Escriba was appointed six days before last week’s 2-1 home defeat in the first leg after the LaLiga club parted company with Marcelino – the man who guided them to last season’s Europa League semi-finals.

An injury-hit squad could only draw 1-1 at Granada in their domestic opener on Saturday, but Escriba called for calm ahead of Tuesday’s return leg against their Ligue 1 opponents.

“We believe it is essential not to go crazy, thinking you have to score early or you have to score two goals [early],” he said.

“There are 90 minutes left to score two goals. We have various plans to deal with this game. 

“We cannot make mistakes. If we are able to minimise errors and optimise our performance, we have will have plenty of opportunity to qualify.

“This is a group with experienced players and so is easier to deal with games like this. Players who have already played Champions or Europa League and know how to deal with it.”

Escriba heads into the match light in terms of attacking options, but has been encouraged by Alexandre Pato’s early steps in Villarreal colours.

Former AC Milan star Pato is undertaking the latest attempt to revitalise his ailing career and he kept up a remarkable knack for debut goals during the Monaco loss.

“He has come here to be a major player,” Escriba said. “He has been an extraordinary player and he will be with us.

“He is still not at a time of optimal form, but when he reaches that state he will we contribute a lot.”

Villarreal centre-back Victor Ruiz was suspended for the first leg and he hopes his watching brief will have prepared him adequately for the task at hand.

“From the outside you see everything much easier,” he said. “I was aware of how we played the opponent. We have to finish analysing Monaco to search their weak points.

“The example we have to follow is that of the Granada game. I think most things we did there would win the match in Monaco.

“We know we have to overcome, but, from within, we are confident that we can.

“In the first leg at the Madrigal against Monaco we showed some anxiety and nervousness about the importance of the game. In Granada we let go more. We believe in ourselves and how to turn this tie.”

Mon 22 Aug, 2016
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