Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pizzi: Europa League semi a career highlight

SoccerNews in La Liga 24 Apr 2014

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Valencia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said their UEFA Europa League semi-final against Sevilla is one of the biggest moments of his career.

The Spaniard, 45, enjoyed a decorated playing career that saw him ply his trade at Barcelona and River Plate, while he has coached at Universidad Catolica, Rosario Central and San Lorenzo.

And facing La Liga counterparts Sevilla at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Thursday, Pizzi said the first 90 minutes of the two-legged tie was important but not crucial in terms of progression to the final.

“I wouldn’t put all the emphasis in this match, but I wouldn’t look as far (as the second leg) as this game is the most important of many people’s career, including myself as a manager,” Pizzi said.

“But also we have to remember the important history that Valencia has and we cannot play with that.

“We need to focus in this match, to try to do our best, get the best performance, look for a good result and intent to reach the final which would mean a lot for this institution, for the players and for the staff.

“Beyond that, I don’t think that we need to look further.”

Pizzi acknowledged Sevilla’s daunting home record, with Valencia last winning there in May 2004.

“In the last 10 years all Valencia managers and players that have been here (to Sevilla) have been eager to come back with a win,” Pizzi said.

“A part of the difficulties in this stadium is that it is not just about the football, also we’ll have the pressure coming from the stands (against Sevilla).

“But we’re here willing to win, to make a good performance being aware of the complexity and the virtues of Sevilla that make us not favourites for this tie, but on one match everything is possible and we have our hopes to go through.”

Pizzi did point out Valencia have not lost to Sevilla in their two domestic fixtures this season, although they will likely have reserve goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in goal ahead of the fit-again Diego Alves.

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