The main message coach Nuno Espírito Santo passed, in the press conference that previewed the home match against Tondela (Friday, 20h30, for matchday 22 of Liga NOS), was simple: “only the next match matters” and starting to think of Juventus (who comes to Estádio do Dragão a week from now, for the first leg of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League) would be a mistake. Besides, as the coach reminded, winning the three points will allow FC Porto to take the lead of the League, with two more points than Benfica. In that case, the team from Lisbon would play in Braga knowing they had to win to retain the lead, adding “extra pressure” to that match.
Extend the momentum of five consecutive victories
“We want to turn this match into a victory for FC Porto, at Estádio do Dragão, our fortress, and keep that moment. These are three important points for what we want in our future. We will have to show maximum intensity and focus and play with the belief that being competitive is the best way to win this match.”
Playing without thinking of what’s next
“We know that everything is reduced to moments, and what matters is the next match. In football, the past isn’t relevant and the future is all that matters. The present is the preparation of the team and the desire to play, be competitive and win in our fortress, Estádio do Dragão. There is no other match other than against Tondela, Juventus doesn’t exist until the end of that day. This is a match we want to win, for which we are prepared, and we won’t make the mistake of thinking of anything else. There is nothing else.”
Placing pressure on the leader
“The players feel well. We are aware that we have to carefully manage those who have been playing the most and it’s a good sign that we have all our choices and solutions available. I don’t think of anything other than our work and getting the three points, and, if we do get them, we add some more pressure because we get to the top, which is where we want to be. The essential focus is on work, we do not want to settle things quickly because haste brings precipitation. We know how we want to play and we are prepared for it.”
A more pragmatic FC Porto?
"Everything depends on moments, circumstances, what the game asks for. We are an increasingly versatile team, able to interpret the moments of a match and what it asks for. We have more options, players more prepared for all the different and difficult challenges that lie ahead and to disturb the opposition and score. We want to be more and more mature: we have sustained growth, which takes time, but the steps that are being taken are good.”
André Silva's form break?
“Again, there are moments. I disagree absolutely with the idea of a break. I'm aware of André's work and, as you know, I do not like to individualize, it's all group situations. What I value and what I am fully aware of is that André Silva is very important to us.”
The importance of Soares in the offensive efficiency
“It was Soares who made that contribution in the last matches and it meant goals, but it goes beyond that. It has to do with whoever got the ball, made the pass ... The behavior and attitude of the players are fundamental, but the supports is the team, which has to be worked on as a whole. We want to build more and more decisive defensive solidity so that this effectiveness, control and dominance are sustained, capable of counteracting the opponent's game and allow for goals. If it's on the first opportunity, all the better, but we also know how to be patient if needed."
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