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Calleja Enjoying European Escape

Calleja Enjoying European Escape

Javier Calleja feels Villarreal’s run in this season’s Europa League has come as a welcome distraction from their poor domestic form. The Yellow Submarine will take on fellow La Liga outfit Valencia at the Estadio de la Ceramica in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie on Thursday night.

Calleja’s team have beaten the likes of Sporting Lisbon and Zenit Saint Petersburg to reach the last-eight stage, but their record in Europe is completely contrasting to their domestic form, as they currently find themselves in the La Liga relegation zone after winning just three of their last 18 top-flight games.

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Villarreal’s domestic struggles are certainly a concern for Calleja, who was sacked as manager in December only to be reinstated the following month, although he also feels the Europa League has provided a welcome relief for his players.

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“We have been suffering all year and we have proven that we are be able to separate one competition from another,” the 40-year-old told reporters. “In Europe we are playing well and it has been an escape for us in a season where the only joy has come thanks to this competition.

” Villarreal have taken just one point from their two La Liga games against Valencia this season, including losing 3-0 at the Mestalla in January, and Calleja concedes his side will be underdogs heading into their European clash. He added: “They start as favourites, as they are a team that come from the Champions League, but we have no pressure, unlike in La Liga.”

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