Brighton & Hove Albion cannot make the mistake of overestimating themselves in its first-ever game in European competition, manager Roberto de Zerbi said on Wednesday.
Brighton, which finished sixth in the Premier League last season to secure qualification for the Europa League, faces AEK Athens in its Group B opener on Thursday.
“We cannot forget where we started and who we were. We can’t lose our DNA. If we think that we are better then we are, then we make a big mistake,” De Zerbi told reporters ahead of the home game against the Greek champion.
“If we want to become bigger than this competition, then we still have to compete at this level first. We have studied AEK a lot. They are a good team, very aggressive with and without the ball. It will be a very tough game.”
Brighton faces a difficult task in its bid to progress past the group stage, where it will also come up against former champion Ajax Amsterdam and three-time finalist, Olympique de Marseille.
“Our group is one of the stronger groups but for us it is better. If we want to win in this moment we have to compete against the best teams,” De Zerbi said.
Brighton is fresh off the back of an impressive 3-1 Premier League win at Manchester United, but the Italian urged his side to wipe the result from its minds, adding, “The challenge of this year is to forget the game we play the day before and to focus only on the next game.
“To keep the result and the good emotion but to forget other things. The game in Manchester is finished. We have to think only about the next game.”
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