Roberto De Zerbi urges Brighton to embrace the pressure of an FA Cup semi-final
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Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has urged his players to “love” the pressure of a Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
Albion are bidding to reach the final of the competition for only a second time in their history following a 4-0 replay defeat to United 40 years ago.
De Zerbi wants his side to embrace the occasion on Sunday and stick to the eye-catching style of play which has the Seagulls chasing European qualification in the Premier League.
“If we want to progress, if want to improve our mentality, we have to play natural,” said the Italian.
“We have not to suffer pressure or maybe it’s better we have to love this pressure.
“We have to get used to feeling this pressure because to play this type of game has to be an honour, not a problem.
“I would like to start the game with the positive head, the positive idea and to enjoy. To show our quality we have to try to enjoy.”
De Zerbi’s only previous visit to the national stadium was as a spectator.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk coach will be in the dugout there for the first time after guiding his team to victories over Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Stoke and Grimsby.
Albion defeated United 2-1 at Old Trafford at the start of this season under Graham Potter and have been made favourites for victory by some bookmakers.
I would like to start the game with the positive head, the positive idea and to enjoy.
“If you want to improve, if you want to become better and bigger, you have to play this type of game,” said De Zerbi.
“It’s two, three months we are speaking about Europa League (qualification) and to speak is easier than to play.
“But we have to try to compete to win the trophy, to become bigger.
“There will be a lot of our fans, a great stadium, a great atmosphere.
“We are able to win the game, maybe we can lose, but for sure we can compete. We are able to compete with them in one game.”
Erik ten Hag’s team head to north London reeling from a chastening Europa League quarter-final exit against Sevilla.
United, 12-time FA Cup winners, blew a two-goal lead in the two-legged tie to lose 5-2 on aggregate following a 3-0 defeat in Spain on Thursday evening.
De Zerbi is unsure whether Albion’s opponents will suffer a hangover from that deflating experience, but is concentrating on his own side as they seek to secure a Wembley return against either Manchester City or Sheffield United.
“For sure Sevilla played a great, great game,” he said. “And Sevilla, like United, is a big team in Europe.
“I think the best solution is to be focused in ourselves, what we can do and what we have to do win the game, respecting the opponent.
“Man United is one of the best teams in the UK but I think we are deserving to play this type of game in this competition.”
De Zerbi will make late injury calls ahead of the semi-final.
Striker Evan Ferguson and defender Joel Veltman limped out of last weekend’s 2-1 win at Chelsea.
“The injury situation is not clear yet,” said De Zerbi. “We will see tomorrow morning.
“We have another two days, so we have time to understand the situation and analyse our situation.”
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