Ex-SL Benfica striker Nuno Gomes called the Eagles' last-four tie against Juventus maybe "the final everyone wanted", with Pavel Nedvěd hailing both sides.
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The UEFA Europa League semi-final draw paired together "probably the two strongest teams left in the competition", Juventus and SL Benfica, according to Pavel Nedvěd.
The former Bianconeri favourite, now on the club's board, is anticipating two difficult games against the Portuguese Liga leaders. The Eagles' one-time striker Nuno Gomes, himself a Benfica director, echoed Nedvěd's view, saying the tie was perhaps "the final that everyone wanted".
Nuno Gomes, Benfica director
We will give our best, as we always do. It does not matter who the opponent is, the important thing is that we are here.
[Juventus] was the strongest of the three teams we could have come up against, but any of the Spanish teams would also be tough because they are very strong at home. But, as I said, what matters is that we are here, in the semi-finals, for the third time. Now we are going to start thinking about that match.
Juventus are a team with a fantastic history in the European competitions – they are Champions League regulars and they are the current Italian champions. It will be hard, but there is a 50% chance for either side.
Maybe this was the final that everyone wanted, but it would not be easier if it was just one game. The fact is we have to play two. We will work with the goal of reaching the final. We want to keep fighting on all fronts until the end and do everything to end the season celebrating our achievements.
Pavel Nedvěd, Juventus board member
We are totally focused on the Europa League, where we are giving all we have, and this is what we will do until the end. There's a slight advantage for us, because we will play the return leg at home, but I don't know if it will really be vital. It has been years since an Italian team reached a European semi-final. It will be a tough game against Benfica. We are probably the strongest teams left in the competition. We really value this competition and the way we celebrated our goals against Lyon proves it. Our coach Antonio Conte is doing a great job.
Mauricio Isla, Juventus midfielder
Benfica are a very good side with a great striker like [Óscar] Cardozo and many other valuable players, [Eduardo] Salvio among them. We will need to be our best to beat them. Juve have not reached a European final in over ten years. Now there are only two games separating us from the showpiece in our own stadium, so we really want to play this final. It was not easy to reach this stage. We have beaten a young and talented team like Lyon and we won a very difficult tie against Fiorentina, so we are ready.