Sevilla coach Unai Emery has spoken out in praise of Juventus, proclaiming the Italian club are on the same level as Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Emery’s Sevilla host the Serie A giants in Champions League action on Tuesday, with Juventus already certain of qualifying from Group D.
However, the game is far from a dead rubber. A home win for Sevilla secures them a place in the Europa League – a competition they have won for the past two seasons – provided Borussia Monchengladbach do not manage the same result against Manchester City.
Emery knows his team face a stiff test to keep their European campaign alive, but they can draw on the experiences of beating both Barcelona and Madrid in La Liga this season.
“The group has been very difficult; the favourites [Juventus and Manchester City] have taken the top two places,” he said at a pre-match media conference.
“Juventus are at the same level as Real Madrid and Barcelona – we want to show the level of performance we displayed against those two teams.
“We all wanted to continue in the Champions League, being eliminated is disappointing and my goal is to play in this competition again next season.”
Emery added: “We have to beat Juventus to have a chance of playing in the Europa League, which is a competition that has given a lot to us.”
The match will have extra significance for Sevilla forward Fernando Llorente, as he goes up against one of his former clubs.
The Spain international spent two seasons in Italy and was a late substitute for Juventus during the 2014-15 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
“[Tuesday’s] game will be very special for two reasons,” Llorente revealed.
“First because we have so much to play for, we still have the chance to go into the Europa League and we want to be there, we want to take this opportunity.
“The second reason is that we’re playing against Juventus, which is my former team, just three months ago I was there my team-mates, and I had two wonderful years there, where I experienced many things.
“I miss Turin, because it’s a special city, very beautiful, where I had two wonderful years, as I’ve said. Also, to play for Juve was incredible, they’re one of the biggest teams in Europe.”