Mircea Lucescu: Rapid are very aggressive team

Head coach of Shakhtar gave a press conference before the game against Rapid, Austria.

- Mister, what is the likelihood of Stepanenko’s participation?
- Yesterday and today he has been training in the general group. We will take the decision tomorrow, just before the start of the match. We should approach this issue carefully. Rapid are a very aggressive team who play within an ace of breaking the regulations, and sometimes even beyond the regulations. On 7 minutes into the game, to be honest, they must have sent Beric off. It was clear in the replay that he jumped up, looked at Kucher and first hit him with his elbow, and only then tackled him. There were many other things that showed the aggression of Rapid. Therefore, we must very carefully approach the issue of Stepanenko. There will be lots of aerial challenges, and before making a decision, we should think twice. I would not want him to get another injury in the place of his wound suture. Tomorrow, we will see and make a decision.

- Is your talisman Fred ready for tomorrow’s game?
- Why is he my talisman? He is our player. I do not have any talismans in the team.

- After all those scandals he just takes the field, and the team win...
- The fact that it’s the Champions League game tomorrow has nothing to do with Fred. There are special institutions that deal with this problem and analyse it. There have been no official letters as of today. For as long as we have none, he is presumed innocent and can play.

- Mister, after the match against Fenerbahce you said in this room that on August 25 Fred would have to be in Paraguay.
- Yes, but the meeting was postponed. He did not go there, being here with us today.

- Shakhtar have not conceded a single goal in the Champions League qualifying stages. Could you compare tomorrow's game with the one against Fenerbahce?
- Naturally, all qualifying round matches are similar. Two teams play, and each of them wants to win. The difference between the matches lies in the fact that Fenerbahce in the second meeting could quietly wait for our mistake and try to use it. I think that from the opening minutes Rapid will have to charge forward and win back the result that occurred in Vienna. I recall the match against Bayern and compare the difference between referee decisions, when there was an alleged foul by Kucher on Götze, which never happened actually. Back then, they immediately awarded a penalty and sent Oleksandr off. In the same situation with Teixeira, there was a clear penalty case. He was hit in the leg and pushed in the back. Unfortunately, the penalty wasn’t awarded and the sending-off didn’t follow.

- Can Shevchuk play tomorrow? Has he served his time yet after that episode?
- Tomorrow will meet two teams who are very well prepared for the encounter. This confirms the fact that none of our players who played in Vienna, has taken part in the Cup game. In the last round, when they claimed a 3-0 win, the opponents also had just three players on the pitch - Auer, Grahovac, Sonnleitner - of those who had played against us. This suggests that both teams very seriously prepare for this match. And tomorrow you will see those to take to the pitch.

Let us remind you that Shakhtar vs Rapid match kicks off in Lviv at 21:45 on August 25. Tickets for the game are on sale now.