Benfica on par with Juventus, says Marchena

The Deportivo la Coruna veteran is eagerly anticipating both Europa League semi-finals and expects two close encounters
By Gonzalo Ruiz and Francisco Rico

Carlos Marchena believes there's not much difference between Benfica and Juventus ahead of their Europa League semi-final tie and feels the Portuguese champions have as much chance of making it to the final in Turin as the Serie A giants.

Juventus are seen by many as the favourites to win the competitions, but Marchena - who wore the Benfica jersey in 2001-02 - feels there's no clear team to beat as both sides lock horns in the first leg on Thursday evening.

"If you make it to the semi-finals, you have as much chance of making it to the final as your opponent," Marchena told Goal.

"Benfica have eliminated some big teams on their way here and they have shown that they have plenty of talent and quality. The tie with Juventus is completely open.

"But Juventus have some big weapons. Pirlo is a player with exceptional talent and there's much more to Juventus.

"They are a team that knows how to get a result they need. Plus they're an Italian team, which are always hard to beat over two legs."

The 34-year-old then went on to discuss the other semi-final between Sevilla and Valencia and stressed that both of his former teams are back to their best after going through a difficult period off the pitch.

"Sevilla and Valencia have both had their fair share of problems off the pitch, but they are focusing on football again. Sevilla in particular have been very strong in the past few months.

"They both have some amazing attackers and head into this game high on confidence. I don't think there's a favourite. I still have warm feelings for both sides, so I don't have a preference."

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