Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta hopes that the bad blood between Villarreal and his team-mate Sergio Aguero after their last gasp UEFA Champions League win does not continue in the reverse fixture – and do his best to ensure nothing untoward occurs.
Villarreal players accused Aguero of taunting them in the tunnel following his late goal at the Etihad Stadium – a charge which the Argentina international forward vigorously denied after the match.
Zabaleta knows some of the Villarreal players, having spent three years in Spain at Espanyol, and hopes a polite word prevents any lingering animosity from developing.
“I don’t know what happened in the tunnel but I know some of their players, including their captain [Marcos Senna], so I will try to speak to him and tell him what happened in the last game is finished.
“We need to focus on the game, for us, and so do the Villarreal players as well.”
Man City manager Roberto Mancini also defended his player.
“I don’t think anything happened. Sergio didn’t do anything,” said Mancini in his pre-match press conference.
“If he plays, he will be OK. He is experienced and has played at Villarreal many times with Atletico Madrid.
“It’s a difficult place to go to, but we want to try and do well. He will cope with it.”