Thursday, October 25, 2012

Levante U.D. vs Twente @ 19:00

FC Twente will be bidding for a first win in UEFA Europa League Group L when they head to Spain to face a Levante UD side whose home record in European competition is unblemished.
Twente aim to open account at Levante
Twente are yet to celebrate a Group L win ©Getty Images


Levante UD have a flawless home record in UEFA competition to defend as FC Twente return to Spain looking to record a first victory in UEFA Europa League Group L.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time, and this is European greenhorns Levante's first game against a Dutch club.
• Twente's seven games against Spanish teams have ended W3 D0 L4 (W3 D0 L1 in Enschede – W0 D0 L3 in Spain). On their last visit to Spain they came up against Levante's regional rivals Villarreal CF, losing 5-1 in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
• Twente coach Steve McClaren also lost at Villarreal, 2-0 as coach of Middlesbrough FC in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage.

Match background
• Levante suffered their first European defeat on matchday two, going down 2-1 at Hannover 96. Up until then, they were the only side in this season's UEFA club competitions who had never lost a game on the continental stage.
• Levante have won both of their previous European home games by a 1-0 scoreline. They have scored at least once in all four of their UEFA Europa League games and have yet to concede at home in Europe.
• Twente have drawn both of their opening Group L games 2-2. Their away form has been erratic this season – they have won one, drawn one and lost one on their last three trips, but they have not lost in 12 European home games (W9 D3) since their last visit from a Spanish team, with Villarreal winning 3-1 in the 2010/11 quarter-finals.

Team facts
• Rosenborg BK and Twente are the only sides to have made it all the way from the first qualifying round to the group stage.
• Levante's Greek striker Fanis Gekas could meet up with two former team-mates: he played alongside Twente's Russian forward Dmitri Bulykin at Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2007–08), and with defender Rasmus Bengtsson during a loan spell at Hertha BSC Berlin in 2009/10.
• Twente left-back Edson Braafheid and Levante right-back Christian Lell were also colleagues at FC Bayern München (2009–10).
• Levante midfielder Nabil El Zhar and Twente goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov were both on the books at Liverpool FC at the start of the 2007/08 campaign. While El Zhar made 21 first team appearances for the English club, Bulgarian Mihaylov never featured for the Reds, earning a permanent move to Twente in February 2010 following a two-and-a-half-year loan spell.
• This is Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martínez's first campaign in UEFA club competition. As a central midfielder, he never rose higher than the third tier in Spain, and coached in youth and women's football, working his way up the senior men's leagues to take charge of Levante in June 2011. He is often known by his initials, JIM, in Spain.

UPDATE! Levante 3-0 Twente

Smiles abounded as the Levante UD players mingled with journalists in the mixed zone following their victory over FC Twente; none were broader than Pedro Ríos's. "I always want to score goals," he said after registering twice in the 3-0 UEFA Europa League win. Team-mate Míchel, scorer of the opening penalty, gave the hosts ten out of ten before dedicating the Group L success to the Spanish team's sodden supporters.

Pedro Ríos, Levante winger
The result doesn't reflect how difficult the game was. We did very well in the first half, though they were also trying to create chances. We were well-drilled tactically and in the second half, when Twente tried a more direct game, we did not waiver. We remained patient.
I'm happy with my two goals – I always want to score goals. In recent games I have had chances but not converted. We want to make our stadium a fortress. With our fans behind us we can't lose. Once again our fans showed they were with us. They knew it was a very difficult game.
Anything can still happen in the last three games. Our priority is the Liga, but we will continue to give our all in the UEFA Europa League. In this team everything is always very clear. The key to beating Twente was taking our chances.

Míchel, Levante midfielder
Beating a team like Twente 3-0, a very strong team in Europe, is impressive. We managed to impose our style and everything went very well. I give the team and our fans ten out of ten. Right now we are in a good position and we will try to qualify for the next round. I dedicate this victory to the supporters. The rain was really strong and when you look at them with umbrellas you feel proud of them. This victory is for them.
It's very important that we are stronger in our own stadium and our opponents know it. The key is concentration, avoiding mistakes and remaining patient. They have had more possession and we've been very good defensively and overcame them using counterattacks. We need to get points away, but nobody is going to give them up easily.

Roberto Rosales, Twente defender
It was a tough game, and [in a fortnight when the sides meet again] in our stadium we have to become strong and pull this off. Keylor Navas's save to deny Roberto Rosales was our best chance in the second half and we ought to have got on the scoreboard, but these things happen in matches like that. Now we have to move on and think about the next game.
Now the group is a bit complicated, but we have to move on. Levante are great opponents, very strong at home and with some terrific players.

Nacer Chadli, Twente forward
We did not get a good result tonight. Levante created more chances than us and deserve their win. If we had scored in the first half it would have been better; it did not happen, so after Levante scored we were not able to overcome them.

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