February 20, 2018 / 3:54 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer-Sevilla's Montella wary of threat from "fantastic" Sanchez

SEVILLE, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella has suggested that the only way his side will be able to stop Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg will be to tie the Chilean up with a rope.

Sanchez has only scored once in five games since switching to United from Arsenal last month. He has, however, added an extra layer of attacking quality to Jose Mourinho’s side, which he demonstrated with a pin-point pass for Romelu Lukaku’s second goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup.

“How do we stop Sanchez? I don’t know, we’ll have to block him in some way, maybe tie him up with a rope,” Montella told a news conference on Tuesday.

“He’s a fantastic player, I saw him play in Italy. He has improved so much as his career has progressed, he’s very fast, he leads counter-attacks, he’s very strong.”

Montella was a surprise choice to take the reins at Sevilla when Eduardo Berizzo was sacked in December. But, if he can outmanoeuvre Mourinho over two legs, he will be the first coach to lead the La Liga club into the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition.

Sevilla have failed to reach the last eight in three attempts, falling to Fenerbahce on penalties in 2008, CSKA Moscow in 2010 and Leicester City last season.

Montella’s European experience includes his Fiorentina side being knocked out of the Europa League semi-finals by Sevilla in 2015, while his only journey in the Champions League was ended at the last-16 stage by Shakhtar Donetsk in 2011 while in charge of AS Roma.

He spoke in exalted terms of the vastly more experienced Mourinho, who has overseen 139 games in the Champions League and lifted the trophy twice.

“I’m very excited to be facing Mourinho, he was a pioneer in football tactics and I studied him a lot when I was starting out as a coach,” Montella added.

“He has a lot more games than me in the Champions League. Experience is very important, but so is enthusiasm and we will try and play with a lot of it tomorrow.” (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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