Sergei Palkin: Rapid shouldn’t be underestimated

In an interview to Futbol 1 channel, Shakhtar CEO commented on the Champions League draw.

- Sergei Anatol’yevich, can we congratulate you on the draw or you're comfortable with its outcome?
- I think that at the last stage we’ve been a bit fortunate, so the draw, I think, is much better than the previous one. But life is like this: it gives you something here, but takes away something else there. In the third qualifying round, we got Fenerbahce - the strongest opponents we might face. At this stage, we’ve had a bit more luck. We'll play - we'll see.

- There is a certain dissonance. Fenerbahce made some major moves on the transfer market and have many big-name players now – so the attitude to the opponents was appropriate. And now come Rapid, the game with whom Shakhtar are approaching being clear favourites.
- It is important that this favouritism shouldn’t serve us a dirty trick. The biggest problem is underestimating the opponents. This sometimes happens to us. So I do not want us, the players and the club, to underrate Rapid. We need to prepare and aim to win. This is the main problem: God forbid that underestimation takes place.

- The club president Rinat Akhmetov has recently called the current Shakhtar the strongest in history, with Darijo Srna confirming this status. But now we have an unpleasant situation with Fred, which remains left without any official papers and answers. If the player still gets suspended, is Shakhtar ready to acquire a replacement player or they will solve the situation using their their own reserves?
- First of all, we should not rush things. It is necessary, first of all, to fully understand the situation with Fred. Based on the conversations we had with him, he says he did not use any drugs. Why he currently plays? Because there is no final decision. We cannot blame or not blame a player. We must still carry out an investigation and then take some decision. Today, we cannot get ahead of ourselves and say that we will acquire someone or that we won’t ... It is necessary to take a decision when we are fully certain that the footballer has broken the rules and will be disqualified. Now I think that it’s somewhat improper and irrelevant to discuss it and try to find another player for this position.

- Nevertheless, your opponents are doing it. There are reports that Fenerbahce filed a lawsuit in Lausanne. Although we understand that there are no official papers available as to Fred having taken illegal drugs. Please confirm or disprove it.
- There is no paperwork. Moreover, an hour before the game, we were together with Fenerbahce, with the UEFA delegate and talked in front of them. I asked the UEFA delegate: “Do you have any papers forbidding us to field Fred?” He replied: “No. Fred can play.” But at the same time Fenerbahce files a suit against us. Although a Fenerbahce representative came up to me and told me this in a private conversation: “Sorry, we have nothing against you personally, we are trying to tackle UEFA.” How they are trying to tackle them, that’s, as they say, their personal problems. Let them  do it if they want to.

- How do they treat this situation at the club, within the team? How annoying or unsettling is it for you? Or it doesn’t affect Shakhtar’s preparation in any way, including the match against Rapid?
- Definitely it affects us, because both the coaching staff and the player himself start getting nervous. Therefore, it affects us, and affects very seriously. We want to alienate this situation from the team, so that the guys can focus on football and not on those legal and paperwork issues. Of course, it’s not very good for us that we’ve faced this problem at the moment.

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