French veteran Robert Pires is geared up for Villarreal's daunting UEFA Champions League trip to Manchester United after helping them win 1-0 over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Pires, now 34, knows all about Manchester United after six successful seasons at Arsenal, where he regularly fought with United for the Premiership crown. He predicts a high-octane encounter.
"The game on Wednesday (against Manchester United) is a different story altogether (to the Deportivo match)," explained Pires. ". It is sometimes hard to maintain such a high level of concentration, and we will have to play at the top of our game."
Pires had been out injured for three weeks, but returned to action as a substitute against Depor, playing the final 23 minutes. Chilean manager Manuel Pellegrini admits he has a selection headache ahead of the Old Trafford face-off.
"I am happy with how all my players are performing at the moment," explained Pellegrini who is in his fifth season at the club. "I am satisfied with the win. We had lots of chances and the victory was fair, but it would have been by a bigger margin had it not been for the performance of (Daniel) Aranzubia (the Depor goalkeeper) and us trying to rush some things."
It was Villarreal's first league win of the campaign and they move up to sixth in the standings thanks to the winning goal from Spanish international Santiago Cazorla. Striker Guiseppe Rossi missed the match through injury, but is hopeful of being involved against his former club on Wednesday.
"The game against Manchester United will be a great match-up against the best team in the world, and for me it will be special having played there," said Rossi. "There are a few days to go before the game and that gives me hope. I am regaining my form little by little."
Rossi, 21, spent three seasons at Manchester United but competition was fierce, and he joined Villarreal last summer for €10 million, scoring 11 league goals in his debut season.
In 2006, Villarreal eliminated Everton in the Champions League qualifying round and went on to reach the semi-finals of Europe's flagship competition, losing to Arsenal over two legs.