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Apr 24, 2006

Pellegrini confident of overcoming Arsenal test

VILLARREAL, Spain, April 24 (Reuters) - Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini believes that his team can turn the tables on Arsenal in their Champions League semi-final as long as they keep faith with their customary patient passing game.

The Chilean dismissed suggestions that the Primera Liga side might drop their usual tactics and adopt a more direct attacking approach against Arsenal following their 1-0 defeat at Highbury.

'We have got this far by playing a certain way and that gives us even more reason to carry on the same especially now that we are in the final stages of the competition,' he told a news conference on Monday.

Villarreal were comprehensively outplayed by Arsenal in the first leg, but they managed to escape with a narrow defeat that allows them to retain their hope of becoming the first side since Sampdoria in 1992 to make the final in their debut season in the competition.

'We have passed some important milestones this season, but we have never been content with what we have achieved,' said Pellegrini.

'We are now here to take the last step and reach the final.'

Pellegrini felt his side's debutant status could also work to their advantage because Arsenal were now expected to book their first place in a European Cup final.

'There is greater pressure on Arsenal from the media and other outside forces. Our only pressure is from ourselves and our desire to reach the final,' he said.

Argentine international Juan Roman Riquelme, who pulls the strings in the Villarreal midfield, said: We are playing against a great team at our own ground and we have to play a great game

'If we do that then we will have a great chance of making the final.'

Villarreal received a welcome boost on Monday when Bolivian defender Juan Manuel Pena was included in the squad after recovering from a knee ligament injury that kept him out of the first leg.

Pena is likely to renew his partnership with Quique Alvarez at the centre of the Villarreal back four in Tuesday's match.