by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (April 30th 2014)
Sevilla coach Unai Emery insists that revenge over his sacking by Valencia has not entered his head. “I don’t want to beat Valencia, because it’s Valencia,” he said. “I want to beat Valencia because it is my opponent and get to the final. But I have respect and good feelings for Valencia”. He has been found wanting before in Europe. “It is a semifinal, but it is not revenge. I want to get to the final and not think about the past”.
Emery consistently delivered third place to los Ches during his three year stay at Mestala. Ultimately Valencia lost patience with the gap between to the big two and dismissed him. An ill-fated spell in Russia filled the gap before his return to Spain. Last season Emery master-minded a result that cost los Ches Champion’s League football and the income that brings. An exodus of the big names followed – Roberto Soldado, Tino Costa and Adil Rami.
Nevertheless, Valencia, while out of contention in La Liga and unlikely to seize a Europa League berth on position believe that they can and will win the Europa League.
Torent-born youngster Francisco (Paco) Alcácer faces a continuing wait to see if he will be allowed to play. A card in the first leg that Sevilla won 2-0 banned him from the return. Valencia appealed the yellow card, but oddly the decision will only be given by UEFA on match-day. “Alcácer is a very important striker, but they have very good players,” Emery said. “If he plays it is not going to be good for us, but they have strikers like Jonas”.
With or without Valencia has a belief stemming from the best come-back in the competition’s history in the quarter-final. Trailing 3-0 to Swiss champions Basel, a famous night of European football was capped with a 5-0 win in extra time. Mestalla has witnessed many scintillating nights of European football, but Emery plans to ensure tomorrow is not one of them.
“We want to go into final but we know Valencia want to do the same,” Emery said. “We hope the fans of both teams will enjoy the game, but I think my team will go through. I think they will continue like they did in Sevilla – quick and intense and we need to fight against this. We won’t do anything different than we are doing in the league. I know two goals is good advantage, but I respect Valencia a lot”.
Emery has consigned his feelings for Valencia to the past – he is a Sevilla man now. “In the first game the Sevilla fans wanted the team to be strong, but what we need is all the players to be the best and limit Valencia to one or two shots at our goal,” he said. “They are the best fans at the difficult moment. Now it’s a good moment for them to enjoy and come to Valencia and feel that the team is going to make a good performance”.
Meanwhile, Mestalla prepares for another night of European football, knowing that it has won the two previous editions of this trophy the Fairs Cup twice and the UEFA Cup once. A photo of the player with most European appearances for Valencia, David Albelda permanently adorns the Mestalla along with other Ches legends.
Emery has put such thoughts and feelings for los Ches from his mind. “I am very grateful to Valencia for the years that I spent here,” he said. “I had a great time here. I love the team, but now I have changed to Sevilla and all my feelings are for Sevilla. I have forgot these feelings now”.
Juan Antonio Pizzi believes that Sevilla are vulnerable in defence and will concede. “You don’t just have to look at their last game at Athletic Bilbao to know that Sevilla are vulnerable in defence,” he said. “We really should have scored in Sevilla in the first-leg and we deserved to. We can score goals to take the tie to extra-time and penalties if we need to”.
With the quarter-final experience against Basel in mind Pizzi knows how to turn it around. “To make a comeback we must have patience, persistence, play with a level of intensity beyond our limits, try to win the man-to-man contests as much as possible and when the opportunities come, take our chances to score”.