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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 6, 2006

Villarreal relishing challenge of Gunners

BARCELONA, April 6 (Reuters) - Champions League debutants Villarreal say they are delighted to be facing Arsenal in the semi-finals after the English side completed a 2-0 aggregate victory over Juventus on Wednesday.

'We've now got Arsenal and that's tremendous because they are a great team with great players,' club president Fernando Roig told Spanish sports daily AS on Thursday.

'They've got Thierry Henry and he's one of the best players in the world and they've also got some very good Spaniards in their team, like Cesc (Fabregas).

'What's more we are going to visit a great city in London which me and my wife prefer to Turin.'

Villarreal reached the last four of Europe's elite club competition after an away goals victory against Inter Milan and they are now aiming to become the first debutants since Sampdoria in 1992 to reach the final of the European Cup.

Defender Rodolfo Arruabarrena, who scored the goal in Villarreal's 1-0 victory over Inter in Tuesday's second leg, admired Arsenal's style.

'They (Arsenal) are a team that love playing with the ball at their feet, and the whole team, not just Henry, play quick and precise football,' he told Marca.

'For me, together with Barcelona, they are the team that have played the best football in this season's Champions League.'

But the 30-year-old Argentine said that the Londoners' inexperience might tell when they reached the semi-finals.

'It's true too that they have a lot of young players and that might mean that the pressure might affect them. Whatever happens our opponents will have to play better than us if they want to get through. If not you know which team will reach the final.'

Spanish media reported that Villarreal fans are already making plans for a trip to Paris to see the final on May 17 which coincides with the town's annual fiesta in honour of its patron saint San Pascual.

Father Guillermo, the priest of the Santa Sofia church, said he would ask for a celebratory mass at Notre Dame followed by a procession to the Stade de France if the club reached the final.

The 78-year-old, who attends matches wearing the club's bright yellow shirt and his dog collar, has the Champions League theme music as the ringing tone on his mobile phone.