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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Apr 24, 2006

Riquelme confident of ending Arsenal's record run

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - Villarreal's inspirational Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme is convinced the Spanish side can do what no-one has managed in the last nine Champions League games against Arsenal - score a goal.

Villarreal go into Tuesday's semi-final second leg at El Madrigal trailing 1-0 and needing to end Arsenal's record run of not conceding to have a chance of reaching the final in their first year in Europe's top club competition.

'The first leg gave us the belief we will score against Arsenal,' Riquelme told UEFA.com. 'With hard work, confidence and discipline we will be fine.

'Our confidence has certainly not been dented by the first-leg result. I have said already that I like the way Arsenal play... but they have weaknesses - the same ones which every attack-minded team has.

'I'm sure that they will concede more than one at El Madrigal. That record has to come to an end some time. I don't know one team that has stopped conceding goals in Europe forever.'

Riquelme has been the driving force behind Villarreal's remarkable run and will have to continue that form to unlock a defence that comfortably withstood the best efforts of Real Madrid and Juventus in the last two rounds.

However, Arsenal suffered a defensive blow on Monday when much-improved Swiss centre back Philippe Senderos was ruled out of Tuesday's game with a knee injury, paving the way for the return of England centre back Sol Campbell.

Whoever takes to the field for the Londoners, however, captain Thierry Henry says the remarkable clean-sheet run has been built on more than just the back four and goalkeeper.

'This is a team achievement,' he said of the run that is a record for the Champions League and equal best in any European competition, matching Ajax Amsterdam's nine-game run en route to winning the Cup Winners' Cup in 1987.

'Everyone is chasing lost causes and defending really well.'