A two-time UEFA Europa League winner with Sevilla, Unai Emery is targeting their first UEFA Super Cup success since 2006. He tells UEFA.com how he hopes to overcome Barcelona.
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UEFA Europa League winners Sevilla will face a Liga rival for the second season running in the UEFA Super Cup when they take on Barcelona in the Tbilisi showpiece. Having lost last season's edition to Real Madrid in Cardiff, Sevilla boss Unai Emery – without win in 19 meetings with Barça as coach – will be targeting a second Blanquirrojos success in this competition nine years on from their first.
The Spanish tactician, 43, tells UEFA.com how he plans to stop Barça's devasting strike force and explains why Liga sides dominate European competition.
UEFA.com: Sevilla have the chance to win another European trophy. What would victory mean for the Blanquirrojos?
Unai Emery: First of all, we're starting the season knowing we have the chance to win a trophy in our first match. Barcelona are favourites but we will go there with the dream we can spring a surprise. If we beat them, it will boost our confidence and our profile, and give us much-needed impetus for the campaign ahead.
UEFA.com: The Blaugrana, making their record ninth appearance in the fixture, are considered favourites. How can you overcome them?
Emery: We have to find ways of reducing the gap between the sides, and when we do, we have to use them to stop Barça. We must approach this tie with the idea of overcoming the differences between the teams.
UEFA.com: How do you prepare to face a team featuring the trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez?
Emery: We have to deal with whatever disadvantage we have. We also have to maximise our own game so we can play our best football. And within those confines, we could possibly find the few deficiencies they have.
UEFA.com: What is the most satisfying aspect of being a coach?
Emery: We all want to win and we search for a way to triumph and thus realise our fans' – and players' – dreams. That's the greatest pleasure a coach can have.
UEFA.com: This summer the likes of Aleix Vidal, Stéphane Mbia and Carlos Bacca have been sold. How do you cope with losing key men?
Emery: There is a foundation of work that is always there to build from, and then there are circumstances we must deal with. All the preparation and success that we make available for our players is important in their development. So if we have to change players sometimes, we don't mind. We've had some excellent players here – Luis Fabiano, Frédéric Kanouté, Christian Poulsen, Daniel Alves. The team is always being rebuilt with players following the same path as those that leave. We want to continue improving and growing despite the difficulties we face and any necessary squad rebuilding.
UEFA.com: Last year Real Madrid beat you in Cardiff to become the 11th Spanish winner in 39 editions of this competition. Why is Spain currently Europe's most dominant country?
Emery: Madrid and Barcelona are two of the best teams in the world, with the two of the best squads. There is a competitive gene in Spain that is almost unique to Spanish sides – it gives us something extra, which shows in our European results. This competitive gene, combined with good players, well-organised teams and good training methods, is something Atlético, Sevilla and Valencia all have; it's what we have in Spain. These are our strengths, our values, and we want to keep them. Most of all we want to keep improving.