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Sérgio Conceição: “I don’t offer presents”

Coach explained the changes in the team and aimed at winning a “special” trophy. Sporting is now in the way

With the victory on this Thursday night (2-1) at the home of Moreirense, FC Porto qualified to the semi-finals of the Portuguese Cup, where they will face Sporting. In the quick interview after the match and at the press conference that followed, Sérgio Conceição preferred to focus on Monday's match (21h00) against Estoril, for Liga NOS, and on praising the goal accomplished in Moreira de Cónegos. As for the changes in the team, they were strategic to the game plan.

Lower pace after the 2-0
“At halftime, I gave instructions to correct the last 20 minutes of the first-half, which I didn’t like, as we lowered intensity a lot and Moreirense started to have more ball. We scored both goals early and, unconsciously, that got into the players' heads. We didn’t show our usual the intensity, to condition the opponent as much as possible in possession and passing.”

The second-half and the future
“We went back with a much stronger predisposition. We had several situations to make it 3-0 and then Moreirense reduced to 2-1, but I think there were no more danger situations. The most important thing has been achieved, the matches for the Cup are always difficult and this is a hard pitch. We achieved the main goal, which was to qualify to the semi-finals, and now we will think of the Championship and on Monday’s match, which is very important for us.”

Team changes
“I don’t offer presents to anyone. We did what I thought to be best strategically. Hernâni ended the last match against Vitória, Soares was on the pitch, and so was Layún. The midfield duo was the same that played the most in recent times. The defence, with the exception of Casillas and Maxi, played many times. I don’t look at that, I prefer to focus on the strategy we have for the match and on what I believe to be the best team to win.”

Layún in the midfield
“We have to manage the squad in the best way we can. I know all my players, I know that Miguel is a versatile player, with a lot of tactical intelligence, and, no matter where he plays, he will always give a positive answer. He knows what we want wherever he plays. Against Feirense he also played in the same position, then had to fall back as Felipe was sent-off. The players are identified, we don’t experiment, we know what we do.”

Affection for the Cup
“I have a special affection, but not because I lost the final when I was coaching another team. It's a defining day in a player's career - I've been through many stages and stadiums, but, in Jamor, the atmosphere is special on that day. I had the chance to win the cup as a player and to be in a final as a coach. I sincerely hope to be able to be with my team at Jamor this year and to win this trophy, which is, in my opinion, special.”

Fight in three fronts with Sporting and the transfer market
“In the Championship there is a fight between three clubs and Braga is also nearby. Benfica is a candidate to the title as well, and I think there will be competition until the end. In the League Cup and in the Portuguese Cup, we are fighting directly against Sporting, and, in time, we will talk of these matches. Now, our focus is on Monday's match at Estoril, for the Championship, which is our main objective. I have players with quality, if someone comes, he has to give more than what I already have at my disposal. Coaches always want more.”

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