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Unai Emery: It won’t be easy, given the stage and opponents’ commitment

Wednesday, April 27, 2016



Sevilla’s coach talks about the upcoming game against Shakhtar

- Today you had a walk around Lviv. Perhaps you have seen that it is a city with beautiful architecture and great history. Why haven’t your supporters arrived in Lviv?
- Good evening to everyone! We are very pleased that we continue our journey in the Europa League and, accordingly, our trip to Europe. Now we have come to the wonderful city of Lviv. We are very pleased to be able to enjoy our stay here. And we are also pleased with the fact that we have so interesting opponents as Shakhtar. As for the fans, those who could come – they have come, and those who couldn’t - unfortunately, so be it.

- Question about the injuries of Vitolo and Rami. Will these players take part in tomorrow's match?
- Today's training is very important for us in order to make the right decision in this matter. We need an expert opinion of our medical staff. It all depends on the players’ form and their readiness for the match. Of course, that’s what plays a crucial role in taking the decision about their participation. Regardless of their wishes or my view, we should rely on their physical form.

- To what extent can tomorrow decide the outcome of the two-legged clash? How hard will be playing Shakhtar on their pitch?
- In fact, it’s very hard to say. The odds are even, 50 to 50. Shakhtar are a very strong, well-organized team. In 2009, they won the UEFA Cup. They are used to winning! They have an excellent mentor – the winner coach. They have a lot of players from other countries, many Brazilians and talented Ukrainian players. Therefore, it won’t be easy for us. We will defend our championship. But, most likely, tomorrow, we won’t be able to decide the outcome of the two-legged tie. It won’t be easy, given the stage and commitment of our opponents. I think the whole team will turn in some decent performance and do everything possible to make our fans happy and bring victory home, to Spain.

- What is the current psychological mood in the team? How important is the European competition compared to the domestic league?
- The Europa League semi-finals, of course, make an important stage for our team. I see the players with glowing eyes, I can see their will to win, their huge potential, I see that they want to make history together with their fans, who support us so much. Tomorrow's game is a great opportunity to once again prove to all our fans: we are the team of champions, and not just on a physical level, but also on mental one, which plays an important role. We should enjoy the wonderful game against strong opponents, enjoy this city and bring joy to all those who support us.

- Were you surprised by the reception that the fans of Yevhen Konoplyanka had staged at the airport? Did he share with you any secret information about Shakhtar, which you couldn’t learn from other sources?
- Yevhen is a very important footballer. Everyone likes him not only in Ukraine, but also in our country, in Seville. We can say that he is the European level player. However, not everyone knows Yevhen in terms of his personal qualities. He is a very nice guy, who easily adapts to the surrounding environment. Also, he is a professional on the field. Of course, he is a team player. I think it will still show what he can do. As for your second question, of course, Yevhen helped us. He knows Shakhtar better, he played against this team. So he tells us about certain things.

- You praised Mircea Lucescu and said that he is a winning coach. But your collection is also full of trophies. Would you share your take, please?
- I twice won the Europa League title, as you all know. But in fact, I would like to talk more about Mister Lucescu. He is a great coach, as I said. He has been in football for 26 years longer than me. He is a very successful and a really unique individual. When I met him, I was impressed by his intellectual level. Lucescu is very fluent in Spanish, so we had a word, and I marvelled at his cultural level: how many teams he has scrutinised, what information he has about European football clubs, and how many things he knows about life in general! So for me, this man is always a very interesting conversationalist.

- Fans, president and everyone else constantly talk about the final...
- We should think about the semi-finals, as we all make mistakes. It's all wrong. We, when thinking about the future, about the final, just lose the pleasure of the moment we are experiencing. That is, from the semi-finals. Now we have to think only about this. Shakhtar are a very strong team who will definitely hinder us from achieving a goal of reaching the final. They have a very experienced coach, as I have already said, who has been in football for many years and who has seen a lot. God grant that I get the same rich experience. Shakhtar are the team combining talented youth and players of international level, who have already achieved a lot. Those young players, such as Kovalenko, who already meets the expectations of many Ukrainians, as well as the top-notch Brazilian players. To sum it up once again: it is erroneous to talk about the final now. We must not think about that - neither the coach nor the fans, nor the president, because the most important thing at the moment is focusing on the two games against Shakhtar. For several years in a row, we made it to the final of this prestigious competition. And now we must keep the bar high, and not lower it no matter what.

- After the important match against Betis, you are facing the game against Shakhtar. What’s your take on this schedule?
- The players who want to perform to top standards, should adapt to any schedule. This is, fortunately, not the first year when we participate in the European club competitions, knowing exactly how to combine the workloads and distribute them. We have been playing in line with this hectic schedule for quite a while now, and we should continue in the same vein. Otherwise, we simply will not be able to achieve the necessary result.