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Emery lends backing to Rico for Champions League bow

Sevilla coach Unai Emery is confident goalkeeper Sergio Rico will rise to the occasion of his Champions League debut against Borussia Monchengladbach.

The 22-year-old played 37 times in all competitions last season but began this term as understudy to Portuguese Beto.

Rico will nevertheless be thrust into action for the Group D opener against the Bundesliga outfit after Beto sustained a knee injury in last Friday’s draw with Levante, ruling him out for six weeks.

“Sergio Rico is ready to play,” Emery said. “He matured last year in important matches and this type of match will help him. We trust on Sergio.”

Sevilla qualified for the Champions League by virtue of continuing their dominance of the Europa League last term, securing their second consecutive triumph in Europe’s second-tier club competition and a fourth in the past 10 years.

Emery is now keen for his players to make an impression on the biggest stage and believes a vocal home crowd at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan can play their part.

“We return to the Champions League with the ambition to play it many years. All the club want to grow in this competition,” he said.

“Sanchez Pizjuan is our temple, our matches here are more than just football.”

Jose Antonio Reyes will captain the hosts on Tuesday, a moment the experienced forward is relishing having started his career with Sevilla.

“Playing in the Champions League with Sevilla is one of the dreams of my life and tomorrow this day will come,” said Reyes, who returned to Sevilla in 2012 having represented Arsenal, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Benfica.

“I’m proud of be Sevilla’s captain. We don’t play this competition every day so we must enjoy it, but obviously we want to win.” 

Sevilla are winless in three La Liga matches so far this season, drawing two, while Monchengladbach have started dismally in the Bundesliga, losing all four games to date.

Reyes does not expect these struggles to be factor when the teams come face to face.

“The Champions League isn’t related with our bad matches in La Liga,” he added. “We respect Borussia. Our team is confident and strong.”

Mon 14 Sep, 2015
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