Unai Emery has sent a clear message to Manchester United ahead of Wednesday night’s clash between the Reds and Villarreal.
Emery defeated United in last season’s Europa League final, Villarreal winning on penalties after drawing 1-1 in normal time.
But much has changed since that fateful night in Gdansk, and United are a much scarier-looking outfit having snapped up Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane over the summer.
Though, while he is clear that United must be respected as a club and as a team, Emery says he is ‘not scared’ to take them on at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
He said: “I am not afraid of Manchester United. We respect them. Respect is important. If you lose it, you may lose.
“United are the favourite, but they were also the favourite in the Europa League.
“They lost against Young Boys. It was the favourite against the least favourite, but there was a surprise.
“There are always circumstances on the pitch that can equal the team. Football is very competitive.”
Villarreal are more than used to upsetting the odds, but they face a United side desperate to bounce back on Wednesday evening.
United are currently on a poor run, losing two of their last three games, and they also got off to a poor start in the Champions League, losing to Young Boys.
Realistically, the Reds can’t afford to lose again tomorrow given the strength of this group, and that’s the added challenge Emery and Villarreal will have to face.