Unai Emery warns Emilio Martinez to rein in emotions in Lille cauldron

Unai Emery during an Aston Villa training session
Unai Emery says 'whatever the competition, Europe is a big motivation' - David Davies/PA

Emiliano Martinez is facing a hostile reception in Lille as Unai Emery warns the Aston Villa goalkeeper to “control his emotions”.

Martinez is set to be targeted by over 45,000 supporters as he makes his first appearance as a player in France since Argentina’s World Cup triumph.

The £20 million signing infuriated a nation when he celebrated Argentina’s win over France in the 2022 final with a lewd gesture while he also provoked star forward Kylian Mbappe.

Lille’s travelling fans chanted a number of obscenities at Martinez in the first leg at Villa Park and Emery has told the 31-year-old to keep his cool in the white-hot atmosphere of Thursday’s quarter-final second leg.

“Emi Martinez is very important for us, very recognised in world football and he has high prestige,” he said.

“Of course when you get success with your country you will have opponents in other countries and teams you beat, but we will protect him.

“We have to be ready for the pressure, and for the opposing supporters.

“We have to be mature and focused – it’s a football match. We have to play with this atmosphere here like we played last week with the fans behind us more than then.

“We have to manage it, we have to control emotions, be mature and responsible.”

Emery is aiming to extend a proud record after winning his last seven quarter-finals in European competition.

He has not lost at this stage since 2010 after winning in various competitions in charge of Villarreal, Sevilla, Arsenal and Valencia, yet will face a significant test in the second leg.

Lille have the best home record in Ligue 1 and possess a highly-rated manager of their own in Paulo Fonseca.

In the first encounter at Villa Park, Lille secured what could prove a crucial consolation goal towards the end which has given them hope of a famous night.

But Emery is a serial winner in Europe and Villa head into the rematch on the back of an outstanding win over Arsenal on Sunday.

“We have to be motivated while also recognising how difficult this game is going to be,” he said.

“Whatever the competition, Europe is a big motivation, and the Premier League is the first way to get it.

“Through this competition we can get a title. Every match is difficult and we have to take experiences on the way.

“Other players, more than less they don’t have experience in Europe. Winning on Sunday against Arsenal is very good for the Premier League. Now, our focus is tomorrow, and trying to be competitive.”

Alex Moreno, the defender, will be out for up to three weeks after sustaining a calf injury.

Aston Villa (probable) Martinez; Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne; Douglas Luiz, Tielemans; Bailey, McGinn, Zaniolo; Watkins.

TV TNT Sports 3 (5.45pm).