Head coach Julen Lopetegui knows Sevilla will have to be at their best to reach the Europa League final at the expense of the best Manchester United side he has seen in a few years.
Cologne will play host to a finely poised semi-final on Sunday, when the five-time winners will look to extend their unbeaten run to 20 matches in all competitions and seal a date with Inter Milan or Shakhtar Donetsk.
Sevilla have proven the scourge of English sides in recent years and won their most recent meeting with United, knocking Jose Mourinho’s men out of the Champions League last 16 with a shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford in 2018.
A lot has changed for both clubs since then and Lopetegui believes Sunday’s opposition are on the right track under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has led the side to third in the Premier League and a third semi-final of the season.
This is the best United we have seen in the last few years. They’ve found their way. We are up against a complete outfit who will make us play at our best.
“This is the best United we have seen in the last few years,” the Sevilla boss said on the eve of the semi-final. “They’ve found their way and for that they’re unbeaten since January in a league that’s as competitive as the Premier League.
“We are up against a complete outfit who will make us play at our best.
“We like playing in these kinds of important matches, of course. It’s what we have worked and fought for all season.
— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) August 15, 2020
“We have the chance to play in a really special match against a big club.”
Sevilla come into the match buoyed by impressive back-to-back wins in Duisburg, where they overcame Roma 2-0 before knocking Wolves out with a 1-0 victory in Tuesday’s quarter-final. United have had an extra day to recover and prepare but Lopetegui is not focusing too much on that.
“They’ve had a day’s extra rest but whenever this side faces difficulty we grow,” said the Sevilla coach, who is able to call upon Nemanja Gudelj again following last month’s positive coronavirus test.
“We will try to ensure that makes us stronger. It’s the luck of the draw but we will adapt and be ready.
“We are calm, we are really up for the game and we can’t wait for it to come around. We are ambitious. The dressing room is, above all, excited. They can’t wait to face the game we have in front of us.”