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 looking to reach the competition final for the second time in their history following a 4-0 loss to United 40 years ago.
De Zerbi wants his team to seize the occasion on Sunday and maintain the flashy style of play that has the Seagulls in pursuit of European qualification in the Premier League.
“If we want to progress, if we want to improve our mentality, we have to play naturally,” said the Italian.
“We don’t have to suffer pressure or maybe it’s better that we have to love this pressure.
“We have to get used to feeling this pressure because playing these types of games has to be an honor, not a problem.
“I would like to start the game with a positive head, a positive idea and enjoy. To show our quality we have to try to enjoy ourselves”.
De Zerbi’s only previous visit to the national stadium was as a spectator.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk manager will be on the bench 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 earlier this season under Graham Potter and some bookies have made him favorite for victory.
“If you want to improve, if you want to be bigger and better, you have to play this kind of game,” De Zerbi said.
“We have been talking about the Europa League (classification) for two, three months and it is easier to talk than to play.
“But we have to try to compete to win the trophy, to be bigger.
“There will be a lot of our fans, a great stadium, a great atmosphere.
“We can win the game, maybe we can lose, but we can compete for sure. We are capable of competing with them in a game.”
Erik ten Hag’s team heads north to London after a tough Europa League quarter-final elimination against Sevilla.
12-time FA Cup champions United squandered a two-goal lead in the first leg to lose 5-2 on aggregate following a 3-0 defeat in Spain on Thursday night.
De Zerbi isn’t sure if Albion’s opponents will suffer a hangover from that daunting experience, but he is concentrating on his own team as they look to secure a return to Wembley against Manchester City or Sheffield United.
“I’m sure Sevilla played a great, great game,” he said. “And Sevilla, like United, is a great team in Europe.
“I think the best solution is to be focused on ourselves, on what we can do and what we have to do to win the game, respecting the opponent.
“Man United are one of the best teams in the UK, but I think we deserve to play this kind of game in this competition.”
De Zerbi will call for late injuries before the semifinal.
Forward Evan Ferguson and defender Joel Veltman limped off last weekend’s 2-1 win at Chelsea.
“The injury situation is not yet clear,” De Zerbi said. “We’ll see tomorrow morning.
“We have another two days, so we have time to understand the situation and analyze our situation.”