Mircea Lucescu: Sarnavskyi helped us out
Press conference by Shakhtar head coach after the game against Metalurh.
- All that I can say is this: we claimed three important points. We risked it towards the end of the game. All that might have ended in a draw if they had scored a penalty against us. The team looked tired. Maybe they were already thinking about their international duty. They heavily moved on the pitch, with little dynamics. Perhaps even the opposition players have been more aggressive today. Maybe they wanted it more. We created a lot of good chances, but did not score. There were the counterattacks that we finished wrongly. It’s good that after one of them, we scored a second goal. We gave some rarely fielded players an opportunity to prove themselves. If not in these matches, where should they play then? Those are young Malyshev, Kovalenko, alongside Dentinho and Bernard. I expect more from those who had not played against Rapid. But it is important that they also had some practice in the official league game. We’ve played a day earlier than we expected in order to have an additional day of rest. I did not want the players to go on international duty directly from the club. We decided that they should stay at home with their families, relax a bit mentally and only then join their national teams, where they also have certain objectives. Eight of our players have been called up by Ukraine national team. Again, it’s good that we’ve won today. I want to say again that it's hard to play in such conditions. The impression is that the stadium got suspended. The stands are silent, as if we were training or were told to hold a match without spectators. Without the pressure from the audience it is very difficult to set up and play. I perform the role of the public, trying on the sidelines to somehow get the players going. That’s the current situation.
- There was the Champions League draw yesterday. Emotions have subsided. Could you comment on each opponent in more detail, please?
- Yesterday, immediately after the draw I spoke on this matter. Everyone perfectly understands what Real Madrid and PSG are like. You probably know less about Malmo, I know a little bit more. The difficult situation we are in at the moment, does not allow us to buy any players. We have only those available for the moment, plus the young players who gradually blend in with the team squad... With huge patience we are trying to keep Shakhtar at the Champions League level. I think the Champions League games will be perceived very differently from today's match. Frankly speaking, it’s not very easy after such a meeting with Rapid to stay at the hotel without going out for three days and get ready for the league game. That’s a very specific situation, and in these difficult conditions Shakhtar keeps the bar high enough. Probably, Sarnavskyi also felt it. By and large, he helped us out today. Some games in the league may be like this. Therefore, I do not want to comment on our opponents: Real Madrid, PSG. We will cling to our chance to the bitter end, just like all the other teams. I have read the statement by Blanc, he somehow does not take us into account... A number of coaches - Mancini, Ancelotti - spent a lot of money to buy players, Mourinho spent nearly a billion. They invite the players they want to, and, perhaps, they have an advantage over the other teams. Naturally, the big players want to join such clubs, and PSG are among them. Plus those teams participate in the highly competitive leagues. While our league is designed just for the teams to make it into European competitions. You can see the stadium occupancy yourself. It is important that in the Champions League the arena will be full, we will feel some good support, and that stimulates the players very much. In general, unfortunately, there is complacency.
- Mister, today you gave some rest to three key attackers, but all of them still appeared on the pitch then. Does this mean that Bernard, Dentinho and Eduardo just wasted their chances?
- In the first half, the opponents defended well, they played compactly, without leaving any spaces to us. They were fresher performance wise, and they looked good physically. And we did not move as needed to rip open their defence – we didn’t cause them any major problems. Therefore, in the second half we had to make a few substitutions. Although I knew that the players taking to the pitch were not fresh enough, suffering from fatigue after the Champions League match. Maybe I was also wrong replacing all three of them after the game with Rapid. Perhaps, I had to leave some of them in the line-up. But at the same time, I wanted to give the guys a chance to rest after the Champions League game. If answering your specific question, I am not very happy with those fielded today. But I have to also view other options in case of injuries and other unforeseen circumstances.
- Yaroslav Rakits’kyy frequently backed Shakhtar’s positional attacks. Was it your game plan or his personal initiative?
- Many things in attack did not work, and since Metalurh did not cause us any big problems defensively, Rakits’kyy quite successfully advanced up field in the positional attacks and counterattacks. That’s not prohibited. In the game there are some moments, when his participation in the attack is effective. In those cases, Stepanenko perfectly knows this: if there’s a free space, he just backs it. Meanwhile, Malyshev, unfortunately, is not quick enough to cover that space, with some open space remaining there.
- Mister, we are interested in your opinion about the draw of another representative of Ukraine in the Champions League – Dynamo Kyiv. Can we say that their group is a bit easier than Shakhtar’s one?
- At a first glance, yes. But all of them are the Champions League teams, so it's hard to say whether someone is weaker or not. I do not think that Dynamo will find it easier in Tel Aviv, as it seems to be the case. Teams of Israel play well enough at home. Just as it won’t be easy for us against Malmo. But here is another difference: Maccabi have more technical players, while the Swedish team have tall and physically strong players. Probably Porto is not that good yet - after all, they lost in the league. I do not know, maybe they needed money and sold five players: Danilo, Alex Sandro, Jackson Martinez, Quaresma and Casemiro. The top five players who used to form the team squad! Dynamo Kyiv should use this situation, because it is not that easy to create a new good and competitive team with other footballers. And Chelsea are the team who do not usually lead the game and boss it in their current state, defending well and waiting for their counterattacking chances. I think that Dynamo in their current form are about the level of Chelsea. Therefore, I believe that Kyiv have a good chance to compete for the top two spots. We will find it a bit harder in this regard, taking into account the quality of the players of Real Madrid and PSG. In particular, the Paris team. They are very powerful: Thiago, David Luiz, Cavani, Ibrahimovic and others. But we will try to play our own game through low balls and take advantage of the qualities that are inherent in our team. As Real Madrid also undergo some squad changes under the new coach Benitez. I would like just one thing - to be respected! To avoid unnecessary penalties and unjustly suspended players again.
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