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Mario: We must be ambitious

Mario is encouraging Villarreal to be ambitious ahead of their “very demanding” Europa League quarter-final tie with Sparta Prague.

Villarreal sit fourth in La Liga and look set for Champions League football next season, but Mario sees the Europa League as of equal importance.

Having beaten Bayer Leverkusen and Napoli in the previous knock-out rounds, the 25-year-old hopes his side can go all the way in this competition.

“I do not have to choose, we must be ambitious and go for everything,” Mario said.

“We have done a tremendous job for months and do not have to choose between La Liga or Europa League but to go for both.

“We have earned the right and will try for all we have left.”

Mario was part of the Villarreal team that reached the semi-finals in 2011 – a result he wants to better this term.

“That season we were just a step away from the final, and seeing us within touching distance of a semi-final motivates the players,” he said.

“The fans also want us to reach a final.

“The motivation is high, these opportunities arise and we must take advantage because you do not know when they can return.”

Villarreal host Sparta on Thursday in the first leg, after the Czech club knocked out Lazio in the last 16.

And though this is the visitors’ first European quarter-final since 1984, Mario is expecting a tough test.

“They are a team that comes from eliminating prior favourites and it will be very demanding,” he added.

“We hope to make a great game to go with a good result for the second leg.”

Wed 6 Apr, 2016
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