Valencia manager Marcelino Garcia Toral admits Arsenal will be favourites in their Europa League semi-final showdown, but added “anything can happen”.
Los Che comfortably booked their spot in the next round by seeing off fellow Spanish side Villarreal 5-1 on aggregate in their quarter-final tie.
Toni Lato and Dani Parejo goals sealed Valencia a 2-0 second leg win at the Mestalla in a measured display, despite only having 39% of the ball possession and making just nine attempts on goal compared to Villarreal’s 20.
Coming up next for Valencia promises to be much sterner test in the form of Arsenal and former manager Unai Emery.
The Gunners boss coached Valencia between 2008 to 2012, where he won 107 of his 220 games in charge and led them to back-to-back third-place finishes in La Liga.
Now the three-time Europa League winner will return to Mestalla hoping to led Arsenal to their first European final since 2006.
“Arsenal fight to get into the Champions League, with a coach who knows us perfectly, they are one of the favourites,” said Marcelino, according to MSN.
“But anything can happen in the semi-finals. At the same time, [the final in] Baku is a long way away.”
Against Manchester United in the Champions League group stages, though, Valencia did record a goalless draw at Old Trafford before beating the English giants 2-1 at Mestalla.
However, the Spanish side will now return their focus back to domestic matters as they pursue a second consecutive top-four finish in La Liga.
Furthermore, Valencia will meet Barcelona in Seville for the Copa del Rey final next month.
“We are proud of the performances of the squad, we are in a semi-final and in a final, and we are one win away from fourth,” Marcelino added.
“Winning in Seville [against Real Betis on Sunday] would put us in a very good situation.”