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Press article:

Solano's eyes on top four - 09/12/2004

Solano's eyes on top four
   Aston Villa
   Birmingham City

Nolberto Solano has told his team-mates that three points against Blues on Sunday will help bring their European dreams a small step closer to reality.

The on-fire Peruvian, with four goals in successive home games, believes Villa can gatecrash the top four if they continue to try to prove the doubters wrong.

And he uses Barcelona's dominance over Real Madrid in La Liga as proof that underdogs can prevail.

He said: "We can't afford to let our standards slip. That's why we've got ambitions this season to qualify for Europe, either the Champions League or the UEFA Cup. "We know that will be difficult, but in football, you never know. "On paper, people probably look at Villa and think 'they are a team who should finish 10th or 12th'.

"But you have to go for it, and the manager has told us not to talk too much about it but to go out every week and prove people wrong. "It's like in Spain - everyone thinks Real Madrid should blast the opposition away in every competition. "But the game isn't played on paper and they are 10 points behind Barcelona."

Solano warns that Blues will be fired up to remain unbeaten against Villa in the Premiership because of their lowly league position and mounting pressure.

And he has warned the purists that it won't be pretty.

He said: "There are going to be battles all over the pitch because that's the way fans like it. I've played in many derbies for Newcastle against Sunderland and the fans want to see tackles flying in everywhere and they want to see you fighting for every ball.

"Our style is to play our football to win the game, but we know that sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up." He warns against Villa being a 60 minute team like in February when the teams drew 2-2.

"The last time we played Blues we played very well in the first-half, went 2-0 up just after half-time and we should've killed the game off and won 3-0.

"But you can never rest on your laurels in this league.

"This time they need points - they've spent a lot of money and everyone is under pressure to get results."

Solano adds that fans must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

"I know how special this game is for the fans - everyone loves derbies. If we win, we know the fans will really enjoy themselves - and so will we after the game.

"But then it's over and we have to prepare for the next game."

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