Sevilla are within touching distance of winning the UEFA Europa League for a second successive season, but sporting director Ramon ‘Monchi’ Rodriguez is wary of the threat posed by semi-final opponents Fiorentina.
The holders came through a testing quarter-final tie with Zenit, coming from behind to edge the first leg 2-1 before needing a late Kevin Gameiro equaliser in the return clash in Russia on Thursday to go through 4-3 on aggregate.
Fiorentina emerged as 3-1 aggregate winners against Dynamo Kiev to qualify for their first semi-final in this competition since the 2007-08 season.
Sevilla are bidding to become the first club to win Europe’s second-tier club competition four times, but Monchi knows Fiorentina are a force to be reckoned with.
“Fiorentina is a very difficult side, who are playing well right now,” the former Sevilla goalkeeper said.
“They are having a great season, and have many experienced players and Spanish ones too, who know Sevilla really well. We have a lot of respect for them.
“Our illusion is being in Warsaw in the final. We would like to win a fourth Europa League trophy but first we have to win against Fiorentina.
“We will have to compete at a really high level in order to be in Warsaw.”
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella was happy to accept the underdogs tag, but was more relived to have avoided Serie A rivals Napoli – who face Dnipro.
“I’m happy we avoided an all-Italian tie with Napoli, although I hope we will meet them in a few weeks [in the final],” he said.
“Sevilla are the holders and they must therefore be considered favourites, but we have reached this stage of the competition by eliminating several good teams.
“Sevilla have lots of experience in the competition, having won it three times in the last 10 seasons, but we deserve our place in the semis and will do our best to keep going.”
Sevilla will have home advantage for the first leg on May 7, before travelling to Florence a week later.