Despite the short preparation time for the match, despite the fatigue caused by the match for the UEFA Champions League against Leipzig, despite the absence of Danilo, banned, and Soares, Marega, and Otávio, injured, FC Porto will face Belenenses, this Saturday (20h30), at Estádio do Dragão, thinking only of winning, to remain alone at the top of Liga NOS.
The guarantee was given by Sérgio Conceição at the press conference aimed at previewing matchday 11: “We just have to be prepared for that, focusing on what we can and should do, because, if we are at our level, with more or less difficulty, we will win the game”, the coach stated, who also praised the calls of José Sá, Ricardo, and Danilo to the national team and all other players who were called to national duty.
The responsibility of getting the three points
“It's a match against a team that is having a good start of the season, with a coach I know well, who has a lot of quality and is showing it. It will be a difficult match, like every other in the championship. I think we must take the responsibility of getting the three points to stay in the lead. Our great ambition and way of being and facing the game will be the same.”
Absences and solutions
“We have to deal with them and find solutions, that's my job. I fully trust the players I have at my disposal. It’s part of the life of a coach, who has to manage the squad with intelligence and creativity. And tomorrow is a final for us, because then there is this pause for the teams, so we have to win or win.”
The short preparation time
“We could, for example, play on Sunday at 16h00, and it would be some more time for the players to recover. I know that in other leagues this also happens - Leipzig will play on Saturday at 14h30 - but the small/big difference in relation to these clubs is the amount of solutions they have and that we don’t. Still, if we don’t have a positive result, this argument will not be an excuse, as it would contradict me when I say that I have a squad that gives me total guarantees to fight for the victory in any match, whether in domestic competitions, or in the Champions League.”
The opponent's strategy
“Belenenses can take advantage of our fatigue, they might play with that thought or strategy. They have already changed their tactic several times throughout the season, as they’ve already played in 5-4-1, 3-4-3, 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1... It depends on what Domingos is thinking of, but he will certainly be preparing the team to cause problem for us. We just have to be prepared for it, focusing on what we can and should do, because, if we are at our level, with more or less difficulty, we will win the match.”
The national call-ups
“It’s positive for me to see Ricardo being called, José Sá and Danilo as well, just as it would be very positive to see Casillas playing for Spain, Marcano, and all the other players. I have a squad that in, in terms of quantity, is not very wide, but in terms quality it’s very good. Casillas, Óliver, and Marcano are always pre-called and we have that proof, so I would be happy if they were all called. This time, it was Sá, Ricardo, Danilo, Marega as well, but unfortunately he can’t, Aboubakar by Cameroon, the four Mexicans, and also Maxi. I'm extremely happy. And I’ll be very honest and say that Felipe and Telles are players of great quality and ability to play for the Brazilian team.”
“Galeno is called, as we only have 15 players available from the main squad, and he has a good chance of playing. We have to be creative and intelligent in the management of the squad, without losing the identity of the group, obviously.”
Loans returning in January?
“I look at the evolution of everyone out on a loan. There are many and I may not meet them weekly, but I speak with our scouting officer, Fernando Gomes, every week. We are in tune, and watch the loaned players, live and on television, that we think have a chance to return. It wouldn’t be fair to speak of those cases, as there are many who have quality to integrate the squad and we do that work. What happens in January, will come in time.”