Sevilla FC's Unai Emery says the two-time UEFA Cup winners' tie against his former club Valencia CF is a "a really attractive tie" between two "equal" teams.
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"Attractive" and "special" – that is how Sevilla FC coach Unai Emery views the UEFA Europa League semi-final between the Rojiblancos and the club where he spent four years in charge until June 2012, Valencia CF.
Emery, appointed by Sevilla in January 2013, predicts two close encounters, saying the teams "are equal in every sense", even though his side are 12 points and three places above their opponents in the Spanish Liga. For Valencia defender Ricardo Costa, meanwhile, this is the tie he wanted. "We now have a big task, which is to get past Sevilla, who have a great coach and a great squad of players," he said.
Unai Emery, Sevilla coach
As we expected, whoever we drew was going to be a good rival. We're satisfied. We think it is going to be a really attractive tie and one that will take a Spanish team through to the final, which is good for the national game. Both the team and our fans will be full of hope and anticipation going into these games. We want to do something big in this tournament.
Valencia will bring all of their ingredients to make this tie special. At this stage of the competition, every team is at the top level. The teams know each other well. We are very equal in every sense. It's best to just accept [that we will play the return game away from home]. If we accept it, it is easier to be better prepared.
Monchi, Sevilla sporting director
At this stage of the competition you will not find an easy rival. Whichever of the three teams we could have got would have been tricky. In the end, you could say that Spanish football is the winner as we will have one Spanish team in the final. We know each other very well from our meetings in the Liga and this tie will be decided by small details.
Looking at the current Valencia squad, there aren't many players left there from [coach Unai] Emery's time. Unai and [Valencia coach Juan Antonio] Pizzi know a lot about each other so there will be no surprises there. Looking at both our second-leg results last night, there is plenty for both teams to worry about.
Juan Antonio Pizzi, Valencia coach
We dreamed about a night like last night and thankfully it ended in the best possible way. It took a lot of effort and sacrifice on the part of the players. The outcome was a fair one. The three teams that we could have faced in the semi-final draw were all top-class. We are going to give our all to get to the final – we have the desire and the squad to do so.
Ricardo Costa, Valencia defender
I wanted us to face Sevilla because we can beat them and get to the final, where I would like to meet [SL] Benfica. That said, I ideally wanted [my former side] FC Porto to get through. We now have a big task, which is to get past Sevilla, who have a great coach and a great squad of players – including their goalkeeper [Beto], who is a friend of mine.
Francisco Rufete, Valencia sporting director
Yesterday our fans gave us some precious memories [in the win against FC Basel 1893]. It's something we haven't lived through for a long time and that allows us to grow as a team. Now we can focus on the fact that reaching the final is possible. We have to look at helping the players to recover as quickly as possible, all the while continuing to believe [in our chances]. Since the arrival of [coach Juan Antonio] Pizzi we have been progressing.
A final between the two Spanish teams would have been better for us both, but we can't choose these things. It will be difficult. All four teams in the semi-finals have a chance of winning the tournament. Hopefully ours will be a great tie and we can get through. It has taken a lot of effort to reach this stage, especially in the last two rounds, so we are really happy to have the chance to get to another final, just as we did twice in the last decade.