Mircea Lucescu: Fenerbahce are more physical, and Shakhtar are more technical
Before the encounter with the Turks, Shakhtar mentor talked to the press.
- Mister, first of all, let us greet you in Turkey. Welcome. You were the champions of Ukraine for five consecutive years, and now you have claimed the second spot ...
- It's because of the system of organization of the Ukrainian championship that put us in the second place. As we played all the matches away. Somebody had this interest to put us in these conditions. But we continue.
- Last year, you made it directly to the group stage. This year, you are playing in the qualifying round ... Do you think, given that this stage of the Champions League is decide by a draw between many teams – the winners of their leagues, this is a fair system?
- If there is such a system, we have to respect the system. Like the other teams did last year. For us it’s the same thing. We have to do this. We have to demonstrate that we deserve to play in the Champions League. This system, like any other system, can be changed, it can be better, this is true. But at this moment we have to fulfil this kind of system and to play. It’s a pity that we have to play against Fenerbahce, because we are two very good teams. Fenerbahce could be among the top five teams. But I know very well, and you know very well why it’s happened that they have to play this kind of eliminations.
- You have good memories associated with this stadium - you won the UEFA Cup here. You also achieved big success with the Turkish Besiktas and Galatasaray. What do you expect from tomorrow's match?
- Indeed, I have good memories. Although now we are facing a completely different match. Surely there will be some emotions that will remind us of the UEFA Cup final, which we won. But I hope that we will remember only tomorrow's opponent, forgetting everything else. In recent years, we have played only friendly games against the Turkish teams: Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas ... I was very pleased to return to Istanbul. Now, we are facing a competitive match. I did not really want to play against Fenerbahce. Probably, just as Fenerbahce would not want to play Shakhtar. I think this will be the central match of the qualifying round. We will do our best to advance to the next stage. On second thoughts, just as Fenerbahce will.
- I would like to hear your opinion about Fenerbahce having acquired some top quality players. Shakhtar, in turn, has sold its key players. Who is currently in a more advantageous situation: Shakhtar, who has long played with the same squad, or the renewed Fenerbahce?
- The match and the result are not affected by the sale or purchase of football players. Fenerbahce needed the players they have bought. The players with big names in European football joined them. We, on the contrary, released the players who were eager to try themselves in other European leagues. As a result, the two teams with different capabilities will take to the pitch. On the one hand, Fenerbahce, having some players with big experience and individual strengths. On the other hand, we have the experience of playing in the Champions League in recent years. Let's see who advances from this encounter and makes it further.
- Which of the opponents’ eight matches did you manage to watch?
- That's my problem. I wouldn’t like to discuss now what I've seen. I am sure that Fenerbahce saw our last matches, just as we have seen theirs. Again, our opponent made some very good transfers, their coach has extensive experience. I want to note that Pereira finished his spell at Olympiakos with the Greek Cup final against Xanthi, who are coached by my son. At the moment, the new season kicks off, the first official match, and now Vitor is facing a game against Lucescu, Senior. I think it will go down in the history of world football.
- The coach of Seville Unai Emery once said: “Matches in Istanbul are like a test for real men. They provide an opportunity to understand your actual worth.” Are you ready to put your name to those words?
- Yes, to some extent, this is a test for our players. I do not know what he meant while speaking of men. Apparently, it was just about the atmosphere at the stadium. Physically, Fenerbahce surpasses us, they are a more powerful team. While we have more technical, faster players. We are facing an interesting encounter. Probably, it will be spectacular too. Let us not forget that this game lasts for 180 minutes.