"It would be the ultimate," said Valencia CF's quarter-final hero Paco Alcácer, as the prospect of winning the UEFA Europa League closes into view ahead of a semi-final date with Sevilla FC.
The 20-year-old's hat-trick in the second leg against FC Basel 1893 helped overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit and put the Mestalla club within three games of lifting the trophy they got their hands on in 2004. "That is what we are aspiring to and we are putting a lot of hope into this competition because it is good for the players and for the fans," said the Spain Under-21 forward. "If we do not get through it will be because things have not worked out, not because we have not given everything."
Before a possible final against SL Benfica or Juventus, fellow Liga outfit Sevilla stand in Valencia's way, a tie that begins on Thursday in Andalusia. "Once you get here you have to do everything possible to get further. We just need to play the game as if it is our last and get as much as possible out of the away leg so that we can be a bit more relaxed when we play at home," said Alcácer, who believes his side have the edge. "[The teams] play more or less the same game. We have more of a threat up front and we have quicker, more decisive players on the wings."
Having lost to eventual winners Club Atlético de Madrid in the last four in 2012, Valencia have another shot at making the showpiece thanks to Alcácer's treble a little under a fortnight ago. "Making such a comeback in a game in front of our own fans is the best you can get," he said. "We were convinced that we could do it, but the fans gave us a boost to turn what was a nearly impossible tie around. The pride that we felt in our hearts helped us complete the comeback."
The attacker's goals may have been what made the difference against the Swiss champions, but he insists it is team spirit which will help his side go all the way. "I was very happy with the way I played, but it always comes down to your team-mates," said the player who spent last term on loan to Getafe CF. "We bounce off each other. Basically, it is about personality. We have got personality all over the pitch and we have also got competitiveness, which is the most important thing for a team. You can see our individuality all over the pitch – you can see that everybody has their strengths which they bring out on to the field."
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