Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Boosts Boro's Cause

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Benitez Boosts Boro's Cause

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Steve McClaren last night revealed how Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez has helped him prepare for what he regards as the biggest test so far of Middlesbrough's Euro adventure, writes Luke Edwards.

Benitez, the former manager of Valencia, gave his insight into the danger posed by tonight's opponents Villarreal because of a debt of gratitude to the Boro boss after he spent a week working with him while he was assistant manager at Manchester United.

While a point for Boro would be enough to ensure their place in the knockout phase of the competition, McClaren insisted, despite the quality of opposition, that he has arrived in Spain hoping to win the match and the group with the help of the Anfield boss.

He explained: "Rafael knows Villarreal and Spanish football very, very well and I was interested to hear what he had to say. He said it would be a very difficult game, but he has given us a great insight into the way they play their football.

"We have also watched plenty of videos of them. Villarreal are the home side and have a good record. They have kept a number of clean sheets already, so they are tight at the back but strong going forward. "It will be a very European-type game ( one of patience and probably one in which a goal will separate the two sides."

Boro have a 100pc record so far in their first campaign of continental competition and with some impressive domestic results also behind them, McClaren, while not under-estimating Villarreal, is confident they can secure their place in the next phase with a game to spare.

"We have taken to Europe very well and we are doing well in the Premier League. The lads are buoyant and looking forward to playing," said McClaren, who has Michael Reiziger back in his squad for tonight's game after being out with a shoulder problem since the second game of the season.

"We want to maintain our good start and if we do that the we will be through to the next stage and that's our ultimate goal.

"We are not looking beyond that. We need to make sure we get the point to get us into the last 32."

Boro's journey to Spain comes just a week after the disgraceful scenes of racism during England's friendly international defeat in Madrid. …

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