Ruben Neves believes that only the stifling German heat could give Sevilla an edge over Wolves in Tuesday’s Europa League quarter-final.
The temperature in Duisburg, in the west of Germany, is expected to be 30 degrees Celsius when the match kicks off at 9pm local time. Despite the current UK heatwave, Seville usually experiences far hotter weather than Wolverhampton, with the temperature usually reaching 35 degrees in August, compared with 21 in the West Midlands city. Sevilla are unbeaten in 12 games post-lockdown while Wolves – who have been playing since July 25 last year – had mixed form after the restart.
Neves, the Portugal midfielder, is confident Wolves will be more than a match for Sevilla, who have won this competition five times since 2006, but admits the Spanish club will be better-placed to handle the weather.
Neves said: ‘[The heat] is maybe the only thing they have ahead of us. We are not used to this weather in the UK so they are a bit in front of us in that aspect – but it’s the only one.
‘We are professional and we have to be ready to play in all conditions, so there is no problem. We need to be ready for them – but they need to be ready for us.
‘We are a squad and a team capable of great things. We had a great season, scoring more points than in the previous season and finishing seventh again.
‘We want to go higher and we will give our best to win this competition and play European football again, but we need to be proud of ourselves. It’s not easy for a team promoted from the Championship to finish seventh two years in a row and reach a European quarter-final.’
The winner of this competition will clinch a place in the 2020-21 Champions League – Wolves’ only route back into Europe after missing out on Europa League qualification to Tottenham on goal difference.
Boss Nuno Espirito Santo admits he has struggled to enjoy the football in empty stadiums enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, and the absence of supporters is a constant source of pain for him.
‘It’s terrible,’ he said. ‘It’s so sad to come to a stadium and know that there will be none of your fans and none of the opposing fans, but it’s the reality and we have to get through it.
‘The pandemic has affected everyone in society. At Wolves we have been able to take care of each other really well, with the help of our medical staff. The respect we have for each other is huge and will never stop.’
Wolves will be without wing-back Jonny, who faces a long spell on the sidelines after damaging his cruciate knee ligaments during last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Olympiacos that sealed Wolves’ spot in the last eight, meaning youngster Lewis Richards has travelled to Germany. Forward Daniel Podence also misses the game through suspension.
The travelling group were due to receive the results of their latest coronavirus tests on Tuesday. All of those tested on Saturday returned negative results.