Sevilla were relieved to have avoided facing a Spanish side in the Champions League quarterfinals, coach Vincenzo Montella said, yet know they will take on what sporting director Oscar Arias called “a giant in Europe” in Bayern Munich.
A 2-1 win at Manchester United on Tuesday meant Sevilla progressed to the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in 60 years.
Sevilla were drawn with Bayern, who they have never faced in official competition. They will host Bayern on April 3 before travelling to the Allianz Arena a week later.
“We are happy to face Bayern Munich because we wanted to avoid a Spanish team at this stage,” Montella told his club’s website. “They are one of the best four teams in the world and have proved that in recent years. At this stage of the competition, all the teams are strong. I’m happy because I’ve never played against them.
“The key will be to play the way we know. We have to improve but also enjoy this. We are delighted to experience this and to play games at this level. They are favourites but we have to think about ourselves. I don’t like to give a percentage but any minimum possibility that we have, we will take it and fight.”
Arias also knows the tie will be very difficult.
“Bayern have a 20-point advantage over their nearest rivals in the Bundesliga and they are a European giant,” Arias told the website. “It was clear that we didn’t want to face a Spanish team. It’s the first time we face Bayern and we are really excited about it.
“We are aware that these types of situations are exceptional. It’s not easy to arrive at this point of the competition and we have to enjoy it. We need to play with the highest intensity and we have to experience it as though our life depended on it.”
Sevilla, five-time Europa League winners, are in unchartered waters in the Champions League but Arias believes his team’s performances against United over the two legs proves his side has what it takes to keep on winning.
“We are aware of the challenges in this competition,” Arias said. “They respect us, they have seen the tie against Manchester United and know that we are a complicated team.
“Sevilla are a team that have been accustomed in recent years to competing at the highest level — to play finals, to face big rivals and do so without fear. The tie against United has earned us respect in Europe and shows us the path we have to take in order to continue to do important things.”
Although Sevilla played the first leg away from home in all four rounds of the Copa del Rey this season, they hosted the first leg of the round-of-16 tie against United — a goalless draw.
“Things haven’t gone too bad for us [playing first leg at home],” Arias said. “If we are capable of taking a positive result at home, then we can go [to Munich] with options.”
Sevilla will not have midfielder Ever Banega available for the opening leg with the Argentine having to serve a one-match ban.
However, winger Jesus Navas, who missed Wednesday’s game through injury, is expected to recover.
“Ever is an important player but we have a competitive squad,” Arias said. “We cannot focus on who will not be there but rather those that can play. Someone will take his place.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.