Press conference

‘I’m proud… we showed a big personality’


Unai Emery told the media that he was “proud” of our “big personality” after watching us beat Napoli 1-0 in Italy.

Alex Lacazette’s free-kick gave us a 3-0 win on aggregate and propelled us into the semi-finals - and a game against Valencia.

Read on for some of the key quotes from Unai’s post-match press conference.

on if it’s our best performance of the season…

I don’t know if it’s our best performance but it is good. After our victory in Watford, which was a difficult match, it was good to then repeat against Napoli in the second leg and keep our clean sheet, and also win this match against a very big team. I think the most important thing is to do our way and be consistent, because for our final objective we need to continue improving.

on the travelling supporters…

I also want to thank our supporters. We had 1,100 people here with us and this was an enjoyable atmosphere. Our team showed them a big personality.

on handling a big atmosphere...

Yes, I am very proud of my players and proud of our work. Because here we showed the players can play against good players and show a big personality with our ideas. Maybe we wanted to take more possession with the ball and control the match with the ball a bit better, but we didn’t do everything I wanted. But our position in the first half was very good on the pitch, we pressed well and stopped their combinations. We pressed them a lot, and we were in their box a lot of times with the chance to score. Our objective was to score and now we must be consistent over the 90 minutes.

on English clubs going well in Europe…

I think in my career I have lived through different moments. Sometimes English teams or Spanish teams or German teams, and now is a good moment for the English teams in Europe. We played against the second team in the Italian league, with very good players, they play very well with their combinations, they played against Liverpool with a big performance and they went out of the Champions League even though they had the same points. This is a good result in two legs but we got the result because we respected them a lot. Our respect for them gave us a serious performance over two matches. But Napoli is a big team in Europe, a very big team.

on his record in the Europa League…

I grew up a lot in this competition, the Europa League, and I think it gives us a big opportunity when we can’t play in the Champions League. It’s a chance to do something important, this competition is important for us because it gives us a chance to play in the Champions League next year. Our domestic league has a lot of teams trying to get into the [top four], and the Europa League is for me and for us now very important. Today Napoli with their supporters showed us they wanted to do something big, and if we won it’s because we worked very well.

on beating Napoli twice…

But I think we deserved to win against them in the two matches, at home and here today, because we respected them a lot. We worked to cut off their best tactics and individuals with our pressing. We pressed them a lot and we defended very well. We worked very hard in the match.

on rotating his squad for Palace…

It’s very important now for the players to have some rotation because some players are injured and after the match today we need different players with a new energy. Sunday is going to be very difficult, and also we continue without Sokratis because he is suspended. Some of the players who played today maybe cannot play on Sunday. We want to play a lot of matches, difficult matches, but we need to prepare well. Now it’s important to rest and tomorrow we will work with some of the players who didn’t play today. Then we will prepare in the right condition for this match.

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