Sevilla FC's progress has been astonishing to behold in recent years and keeper Andrés Palop believes their push for glory will prove too much for Fenerbahçe SK.
Sevilla FC's progress has been astonishing to behold in recent years and goalkeeper Andrés Palop believes their hunger to grow will take them past Fenerbahçe SK and into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
In concrete terms, the Andalusian outfit must overturn a 3-2 deficit after losing to a late goal in Turkey a fortnight ago, but Palop is confident his colleagues will rise to the occasion on Tuesday. "Going through is hugely important for us because that would make us one of the best eight teams in Europe," he said. "That's why we are going into this match with enormous desire. We want to continue moving forwards. I've been involved in a lot of important games with Sevilla and this is perhaps the most important."
Having played his full part in the club's recent odyssey, Palop is better placed than most to judge what qualification would mean. The 34-year-old helped Sevilla to their second consecutive UEFA Cup in 2006/07 by saving three spot-kicks in a penalty shoot-out against RCD Espanyol – and he is predicting more success against Fenerbahçe, although preferably within regulation time. "The game will last 93 or 95 minutes, and that's more than enough for us to be positive, get forward and win," Palop said. "It's simple. If we win, we'll be in the next round."
One reason for optimism in southern Spain might be Fenerbahçe's disappointing domestic run since the first knockout round first leg. Zico's men have drawn once and lost twice – including a 2-1 Turkish Cup defeat by arch-rivals Galatasaray AS – but Palop is reading little into those results. "They weren't playing with their best players in those games and they've been really focused on this game," he said. "They'll come here with their top eleven players and try to defend their lead."
Roberto Carlos would normally be one of the first names on the Fenerbahçe team sheet, yet the Brazilian left-back has failed to recover from a leg injury in time to feature at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán. "He's very important for them but they have other good players as well," added Palop. "We just have to think about ourselves, and although our result in Turkey wasn't perfect, it gives us a good chance of going through."