Unai Emery wants Villarreal to ‘ride the wave’ after losing ‘the surprise factor’ – Liverpool FC
Villarreal manager Unai Emery admits they lost the element of surprise ahead of the Champions League semi-final first leg against Liverpool at Anfield.
Few expected the seventh-placed LaLiga side to overtake Juventus and Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 to reach the last four.
Emery admits the chances of Liverpool not taking them seriously are slim, but he hopes to “ride the wave” of success that started when they won the Europa League last season.
“The surprise factor is decreasing; the first game against Juventus, the surprise factor was perhaps more important,” said the former Arsenal manager.
“Against Bayern it was important because we managed to find our own performance and we could use our weapons against another strong rival.
“It’s no longer present but every team that is in the semi-finals deserves it, we know they will respect us.
“We got to play against big teams like Juve and Bayern so they know it’s going to be a tough game and they’ll have to be 100 per cent and give their all to Anfield.
“Of course they will feel like favorites because it’s natural. It’s an even higher difficulty than Juventus and Bayern Munich.
“What I see gives me huge motivation to try and play the perfect game to beat the best Liverpool.
“They built a Liverpool team like their manager, with that smile, that energy.
“We will try to ride the wave of experience that we started to accumulate last season.”
Midfielder Dani Parejo insists they head to Anfield in high spirits as the club are only preparing for their first Champions League semi-final since 2006, when they narrowly lost 1- 0 against Arsenal over two legs.
“We have all the confidence in the world, not only since this year, but we did something last year in the Europa League when we won without losing a single game,” he said.
“But it’s a step up in the mental and physical demands, but we have all the confidence and composure we can have.
“We are good players individually, but our great strength is the group.
“After eliminating Juventus and Bayern, it’s very important for us to approach this kind of game with a higher level of knowledge on how to compete with teams like this in this competition where there are so many of issues.
“We’ve grown a lot in that regard.”