Football

Martinez: Sevilla as good as Barca, Real

Bayern wary of La Liga side after poor recent record against Spanish teams

They might be the least heralded of the Champions League quarter-finalists, but Sevilla are as good as European giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, said Bayern Munich utility man Javi Martinez.

The 29-year-old would know, having had many battles with the side from Seville during his six seasons at La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao.

QUARTER-FINAL, 1ST LEG
SEVILLA tBAYERN MUNICH

While Vincenzo Montella's side are far adrift of Real, Barcelona and even Atletico Madrid in the La Liga standings, they offered a glimpse of what they are capable of on Saturday, holding unbeaten La Liga leaders Barca 2-2 .

They scored two goals in the most difficult moments of the game. Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez telling ESPN that Sevilla deserved their 2-1 win over Man United at Old Trafford in the previous round

Sevilla had looked set to inflict the first league defeat on Barca this season, having led 2-0 until the 88th minute.

Martinez told ESPN: "Maybe people think they're not as good as Barcelona or Real Madrid, but I think they are...

"If we are not at 100 per cent, they can beat us.

"I think Sevilla deserved to win both games, in Seville and in Manchester.

"They scored two goals in the most difficult moments of the game. They acted and played like a big team.

"That is why they are dangerous. They know how to play important games, they know how to do it."

Ahead of his side's quarter-final, first-leg clash at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan tomorrow morning (Singapore time) , Martinez said his team had to be prepared for the raucous party atmosphere at Sevilla's home ground, saying: "They scream very loudly."

His teammate Arjen Robben agreed, adding that Bayern have to score away goals amid the "sizzling atmosphere".

He said: "We need to score goals, especially away against them. It will be a fierce game. They are very strong at home and, with their fans, it will be a sizzling atmosphere."

Five-time European champions and runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich might have a pedigree that far surpasses Sevilla, who are in the last eight of Europe's premier club tournament for only the second time, but recent history is against the German side.

Their recent record in Spain is poor, having lost on all five of their last trips to the country, reported Reuters. Bayern have been eliminated by a Spanish club in the competition in each of the last four seasons.

Despite languishing sixth in La Liga, 16 points adrift of the Champions League places, Sevilla are undefeated in their 11 home games against German clubs.

Said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes: "Of course, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City are playing very well, Liverpool are playing well, but we had five English teams through and we were talking about the best league in the world - three of them are gone. So we must take these guys seriously."

Football