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​​Sérgio Conceição: “Classic is important, but not decisive”

Coach did the preview of the match against Sporting (Friday, 20h30), for matchday 25 of Liga NOS

An “important, but not decisive” match. That’s how Sérgio Conceição is looking at the classic scheduled for Friday (20h30), against Sporting, which will be held at Estádio do Dragão. The blue and white coach reminded that, after this matchday 25, there will still be 27 points to play for, insisting that the fight for the title will have three contenders until the end.

Regarding injuries, the coach admitted that there isn’t much more room for surprises, but continues to have confidence on his players, assuring that a strong FC Porto will be facing the next challenge.

Team that plays offers full guarantees
“I don’t really like surprises. I try to use whoever is best for each match and I honestly think I’m out of options to come up with surprises. I have players that are injured, and I will choose the team that gives me the best guarantees to win the match.”

Defensive consistency
“That’s always important, not just for tomorrow. In football, we have important principles and that is one of the basis of our team. The defensive stage is also associated to the offensive process. Against a strong team, as is Sporting, it’s important to focus on having a strong team on the defence. It doesn’t have to do with low or high defence, it has to do with conditioning the opponent.”

The results/confidence
“I believe confidence comes from results and Sporting has been having good results. The way they achieve them is different, but it’s part of what football is. They have been having a season that allows them to fight for the title and that’s what matters. This match will be different from all those against Sporting, but, like I said, we are focusing on ourselves. We look at the opponent, but we focused on ourselves.”

Important duel, but not decisive
“When you get to this stage in the championship, every point matters. This is a match that may be worth more than just the three points, for the direct confrontation, and that isn’t pressure. It’s reality. But then there will be 27 more points to fight for. Tomorrow, we have an important obstacle in our path and we want to take it all the way, so we can end the championship with one more point that the second team. I understand all the expectation around us, as this is a very interesting fight. But I think it will be a fight until the end.”

The injuries
“We have several players conditioned. Some we will check on them until the time of the match, others are out. I when I start hearing about this or that player that Sporting might not have available, I look at the team that played in Portimão, where we didn’t have our usual fullbacks, our usual midfielder until he got injured, Danilo, our top scorer until he got injured, Aboubakar, and then Corona, and Soares is out for tomorrow. And I didn’t see the press talk about that. On the one hand, it’s a good sign, because it means we can win the match with players that haven’t been as used. But I don’t see anyone talk about that. We don’t talk about absences, because, like I always said, I can’t use that as an excuse. From the moment the season started, I praise the squad I have, as it gives me guarantees in terms of quality, so now I can’t say otherwise.”

Team ready to give all the answers
“Sporting’s forwards are different and we will have to keep an eye on who we will have to face. We do that and we work. But, regarding who plays and who doesn’t, I don’t have to say anything else about it. That’s their problem.”

Still the second-half in Estoril
“Someone said on TV that throwing dust, trash, or spite removes merit and quality to my players. We won on the pitch, and we are a strong team. To talk of football, I’m fine with that; about football, that’s harder for me.”

Euphoria doesn’t affect the squad
“We don’t work depending of what people say or think. We have our path. We are keeping an eye on what surrounds football and, if I ask my players who read the newspaper today, I bet few did. There is no excessive confidence, because our confidence is in our results. We are focused on what our work is. We prepared the match against Sporting not based on what we recently did, but on what we are going through.”

Gelson Martins potential ban lift
“I enjoy watching the good players. If Gelson plays, we will be here to face that problem. They will have 11 players on the pitch, and we will be here, at the top of our strength.”

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