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FC Porto faces Lokomotiv at home for matchday 4 of Group D of the UEFA Champions League

This Monday, Sérgio Conceição did the preview of the home match against Lokomotiv Moscow, for matchday 4 of Group D of the Champions League. In the previous round, FC Porto won in Russia, 3-1.

The national champions are in the lead of Group D, with seven points, whereas Lokomotiv has yet to get any in the group stage of the Champions League, and will be fighting for a positive result at Estádio do Dragão to keep dreaming of the qualification.

Match will be harder than the one in Moscow
“The motivation must be daily, it has to be present, to win points, to win matches. It doesn’t matter if we score in the first or in the last minute, what matters is to go in strong, like we did in Russia. I think tomorrow’s match might be harder, with a different dynamics, for the better, from Lokomotiv. But that won’t stop us from going in to assure the three points.”

Last season’s path in the Champions League
“The focus on what we have to do, on what each one has to do, must be complete. Whatever is shown by statistics, comparisons to last year, anything surrounding the match in that regard is not important for us. We need to focus on the match, on the opponent, and, especially, on our team.”

The strategy for the match tomorrow
“We won’t run from the team’s identity, we will remain true to ourselves. One or two players may change, the positioning of that one or the other, but everything remaining within our strategy. My team doesn’t go in thinking of what the opponent will do or react to what they do. Never.”

What Lokomotiv will come to Estádio do Dragão?
“I don’t know what their coach is thinking of, I assume they will do what they usually do in the championship. I’m expecting a Lokomotiv along the lines of what they have been doing throughout the season. It’s important for some people to say this is a weak group. But it isn’t. It’s an extremely balanced group. There are three team with a difference of three points between them, and that alone shows how balanced the group is and the importance of tomorrow’s match.”

Coach talked of defensive mistakes in Russia
“There are always things to improve, depending on the matches and the opponents we face. Sometimes, it’s our fault, but other times it’s the opponent’s fault. We are always aiming at improving match after match, looking for that unreal perfection. We work hard towards that. The defensive organization must be the foundation for the rest. There were things that didn’t go well in Russia, some for individual mistakes, other for positioning that could have been made differently."

What changed in the way Óliver plays
“We had several conversations, and much training for him to come closer to what I wanted. It’s not about limiting what Óliver does best, it’s about football having more speed, being more intense. Óliver improved in several aspects, namely on what he has to do without the ball. We can’t forget that a match has 90 minutes and players usually go 88 minutes without the ball. Óliver has been doing a magnificent work in that regard, in playing without the ball and in getting to the opposing area, something that I see as important in modern midfielders. The modern midfielder, for me, needs that type of characteristics. There may be other coaches that want their players to take just two square meters, but not me. He was humble enough to understand that and he has been delivering. When he doesn’t, there will be another Óliver to go in.”

FC Porto at the top form?
“We work hard every day, we are very demanding in what we do, in our work, and the players also have their demands towards the coaching staff. After that, the form of a team depends on many things, but the most important is how you work and the spirit you have. Just look at Óliver, we were just talking about him, or Herrera, for example. I find it strange that no one asks. I want to take the opportunity to reveal Herrera is conditioned since the match against Lokomotiv and he has been doing a great effort each time he is called; he has been doing all he can and can’t to help the team. He is the ultimate proof that a player can be about to end his contract and remain fully committed to the team. It shows the spirit you can find in our squad. It’s a good thing that no one remembers that our top scorer from last season, for example, is injured. It shows the team is well, also in the defence, and the proof of that is that, for the championship, for example, we have the best attack and the best defence.”

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