Emery: My only thoughts are doing the best I can for Sevilla
Sevilla manager Unai Emery expects a very open, even and hotly contested tie against Valencia in the Europa League semi-finals, but whilst acknowledging that it’s a tie of 180 minutes, he insists that all his team must focus on right now, is getting the best result they can from Thursday’s first-leg.
Speaking at his Europa League preview press conference, Sevilla manager Unai Emery explained that he sees the tie against Valencia, as one which will be very tight, with little to separate the two sides and different to their encounters this season in La Liga.
“We’re very much aware of what it’s cost us to get here and we’re not going to deviate from the task at hand. We consider the tie fifty-fifty and there’s sufficient arguments for both teams, to justify that. If we cling to the idea that there’s a difference between us in La Liga, fine, we’ve made a difference there, but all of that is separate from this.”
“I believe firmly in the potential of the two teams, in the balance between the two teams and the current form of the two teams. We want to find the best version of ourselves and then manage the tie, playing from the 1st to the 180th minute in the best of conditions.”
Although planning for how to manage the two games of the tie, Emery insisted that all focus is on Thursday’s game, first and foremost.
“There aren’t two games to think about yet, just one. At the moment, all we’re thinking about is one game. We have to live in the present, live with what we have.”
Reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League is clearly something to be excited about, which Emery can sense around the club, but he also believes their approach to the game, should be the same as any other they’ve faced this season, whilst very much viewing it as another opportunity to achieve success.
“We’re very excited, the excitement of the team and everyone around us is huge, but that excitement doesn’t lead us to a mistaken euphoria. Excitement is about living for this moment with a high level of intensity, with a unique experience, with a process we’ve believed in throughout the season. We’re in a very nice part of the season and we believe we must take advantage of it, to enjoy it fully.”
Acknowledging that Sevilla haven’t beaten Valencia in La Liga this season, Emery hopes that his team can do better in these next two encounters.
“They are different occasions, but the same teams and the same players. Maybe there could be the same success or the same mistakes. This season, we haven’t beaten Valencia. In specific times, we haven’t been better than them. Therefore tomorrow has to be a different game. Tomorrow is all about focusing on the game, knowing that we must then follow that through into next week’s game.”
Emery doesn’t see any advantage, in his own considerable knowledge of Valencia and their players.
“We know Valencia well and they know us well. There’s no advantage knowing certain players more. I expect the best from Valencia, they’re a great team with great players. They have an important trajectory in Europe.”
Clearly having managed Valencia in the past, would lead some to assume that Emery still has strong sentiments for them. He was keen to point out however, that whilst he has fond memories, he’s now Sevilla through and through.
“I’m 100% Sevilla. In all the teams I’ve managed, I have good memories. My time at Valencia made me a better manager and a better person, but right now my sentiment is 100% Sevilla. My only thoughts are doing the best I can for Sevilla. My only colours now are red and white, our colours.”
Asked for what message he would send to the Sevilla fans, rather than ask for anything of them, he underlined his respect for their faithful support and awareness of what progress in the Europa League, means for them.
“We have a responsibility to the recent history of Sevilla, in which this competition has brought a great deal to the fans. When I saw 4,000 fans in Estoril, I understood even more what it means to all the Sevilla supporters and the dreams they place on winning this competition.”