Valencia v Atletico preview

Valencia coach Unai Emery has labelled his side's Europa League semi-final decider against Atletico Madrid as the biggest game of his career.

Last Updated: 25/04/12 at 17:47   

Emery: Braced for biggest game of career

Emery: Braced for biggest game of career

Emery's future has been the subject of speculation with Valencia struggling to convince in La Liga despite hanging on in third place in the race for Champions League qualification.

Los Che host Atletico at the Mestalla in the second leg of their semi-final trailing 4-2 following last week's first encounter and Emery knows his critics are poised.

Emery said at a news conference: "It is the biggest game of my career, for many players too.

"We have to control our anxiety. We work best without thinking about anything else."

Despite the deficit, Emery has no concerns about his players' motivation with a trip to Bucharest for the final against Athletic Bilbao or Sporting Lisbon the possible reward.

He said: "It is the biggest game of the year.

"It is a meeting of two very similar teams and the result there makes them favourites.

"But we are playing to reverse the result and it is a game that has generated the most enthusiasm."

Atletico, winners of the competition two years ago, took firm control of the tie with three second-half goals at the Vicente Calderon.

Jonas had cancelled out Falcao's early opener for Atletico but Diego Simeone's side powered ahead with further strikes from Miranda, Adrian Lopez and Falcao before Ricardo Costa pulled one back in injury time.

Emery said: "Atletico are having an immense competition.

"Simeone has a special touch in these knockout games.

"It is a challenge which we did not meet in the first leg. We need to give everything."

Atletico forward Diego Ribas is certainly not taking anything for granted, believing the second away goal from Costa last week changed the complexion of the tie.

The 27-year-old Brazilian, on loan from Wolfsburg, said: "The game at the Mestalla will be sporting war - a very tough encounter.

"The second goal of theirs changed everything but we have an advantage we should build on to reach the final.

"Valencia are a tough, well-organised side but we have to make the most of our advantage."

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Europa League Fixtures

Thursday, 24 April 2014
20:05
Benfica v Juventus  
Sevilla v Valencia  
Thursday, 01 May 2014
Juventus v Benfica  
Valencia v Sevilla  

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