MADRID, 26 Apr. (EUROPE PRESS) –
Villarreal coach Unai Emery insisted on Tuesday that his team is in the semifinals of the Champions League “with the certainty that it deserves it”, against an “improved and updated version” of Liverpool, “favorite” in a tie which is a “major challenge”, although “the enthusiasm and motivation are also greater”, and in which they want to “have a leading role”.
“I live it naturally, within the demands and possibilities of taking steps as a coach. Villarreal gave me the opportunity to make a beautiful project. This year we have a team to work on and reach these semifinals. We are here with the certainty of that we deserve it, and from that recognition we have to compete with the main favorite that is Liverpool. But with the illusion of wanting to compete and bring out our best version, at the level that is demanded”, affirmed Emery in the preview of the duel at Anfield in This Wednesday (9:00 p.m.).
The coach sees the presence of the ‘Yellow Submarine’ in this European round with “normality”, knowing that Liverpool supposes “a greater difficulty after Juve and Bayern”. “We have to work on the best version of ourselves individually and collectively. And let ourselves go on the wave of the experiences we’ve been having since last season, all together,” he said.
“Concentrated on the focus of each game. Knowing that it is a semi-final and we are playing against the main favourite, but we want to be ourselves, to have our leading role. We are here because we are, it is not a passage that ends and that we are going to take it for granted, We want to be protagonists. We play against a team that is a favourite, it may be superior to us, but we have our mechanisms to compete”, he added.
“THE DIFFICULTY IS GREATER, BUT SO ARE THE ILLUSION AND MOTIVATION”
And Emery lamented that the “surprise factor” that was important in the two previous rounds, will no longer help the people from Castellón. “In the first tie against Juventus there were moments when, from not being favorites and starting off losing, the surprise factor was more important so that Juve’s reaction did not come. The surprise factor against Bayern was also important, to respond to the demands of the rival. Now that is no longer present”, he commented.
“The first statements (from Liverpool) come with a lot of intelligence, they respect us. They know that the tie is going to be difficult and they know that they have to give everything, and that they have power, and they will feel like favorites because it is something natural and normal, but from respect. The difficulty is greater, the challenge is greater, but the enthusiasm and motivation are greater”, analyzed the Hondarribia man.
The coach highlighted the “updated and improved” version of Liverpool that will meet this Wednesday, in the second semi-final in the club’s history. “It is their best moment. Since 2016, with patience and leadership from their coach, they have been developing improvements, with Van Dijk, a Liverpool like Klopp, with joy, with a smile, with energy. In addition to running, they have found pause”, he explained about the journey of the English team, which they already beat in the final of the Europa League in 2016 with Sevilla.
“THAT MAGNIFICENT LIVERPOOL CHAMPION OF EUROPE IS THE ONE I SEE NOW”
Although Emery also recalled his defeats against the ‘reds’ as Arsenal manager in the 2018-19 campaign, experiences he knows “from difficulty and recognition to a very clear identity designed by Klopp”. “That magnificent European champion Liverpool is what I see now,” confessed Emery, who believes that his previous duels against the English team are “motivation to play a perfect game” to win “the best Liverpool” at Anfield.
“We have a combination of experienced footballers, a squad recognizable by certain footballing successes, with a top-level presence. We are here because we have our credentials and we are certain that we have overcome two knockout games against important rivals,” he stressed in relation to his footballers, after confirming Yéremy Pino’s withdrawal due to injury and confirming that it is “soon” for Gerard Moreno to be “in the best conditions”.
Finally, he referred to the 3,000 ‘grogets’ who will be supporting Villarreal at Anfield. “That the fans are with us is so that we can live it together, the beautiful thing is to share these moments. The fans are the ones who have been, are and will be, without them there would be no reason to exist”, he assured, to later praise the coach of Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, who praised the Castellón team before the semis.
“Me as a coach, as a person and the affection he has for us and that he makes it public,” Emery settled.