Mircea Lucescu: I want only one thing – to be respected

Press conference of Shakhtar’s head coach ahead of the match with Real Madrid.

- Mister, exactly 40 years ago, in September 1975, you played at this stadium as part of Dinamo Bucharest. You must have good memories of that game because you scored a goal in that match. Are the feelings accompanying your preparation for the Real Madrid clash back then are too different from current ones?
- Today I was very pleased to read an interview with Miguel Angel. I recalled a match-up with Real Madrid in Palma de Mallorca as well as the match you have mentioned now.  I scored in that game. In fact, 40 years have passed... One cannot compare different generations in any case! When Di Stefano and Gento played for Real Madrid, I was a young player at Dinamo Bucharest. Spain had a very good generation of players. Later we played against Santillana, Miguel Angel, Pirrie... Then, during my spell with Galatasaray, I faced Real Madrid, a generation which was called ‘galacticos’. There was a match for the UEFA Super Cup and two games in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. I have very good memories, especially since I was a football player and a coach from Eastern Europe... Today, Real Madrid are a super club with super organisation. If the match against Real Madrid took place in Donetsk, I think we would start the game with the score of 1-0! The temple of European football is here, and Donetsk, perhaps, boasts the most modern stadium in the world. Unfortunately, we have not played at it for a year and a half. Hopefully, one day we will return to our ground.

- What gives you the strength to build a team with young players?
- My love for football and for working with young players. Youngsters must be treated quite differently than experienced players - in some extent they need to be more educated. Besides, I like to pass the youth the experience that I have accumulated over the years in football. 

- How does Darijo Srna feel after the failure of the Croatia national team? How will you react?
- You will see my reaction tomorrow on the pitch.

- What do you feel when not playing at home in front of your fans?
- It is very difficult: we are living far our fans and most of the time, unfortunately, we spend in the planes. We train in Kyiv - our so-called base is there now. We meet many of our fans, who left Donetsk because of the hostilities, in different cities, and they support us. But there are not many of them. In many games, when stadiums in Ukraine are empty, you have to be not only a coach, but also a motivator for the players. When it comes to the Champions League, the situation is different. Although  fans are not from Donetsk, they represent the whole Ukraine, they root for us very well.

- This is the sixth consecutive Champions League for Shakhtar. It is clear that the time is very difficult, both for the club and for you as a coach. Still, what would you like to see in the standings after December 10? What is your goal? Which of players do you count on?
- The most important thing for us is to leave a good impression in the Champions League group. Of course, we are aware of our opponents’ strength, including the upcoming ones. We respect Real Madrid a lot as well as players who play for this club. It is not easy to switch over from the domestic league match, which is attended by two or three thousand fans, to the game, which will see one hundred thousand fans. But I am sure that tomorrow we will put on a decent performance.

- In your opinion, what tactics can bring you success in the game?
- Of course, it is not good that we face Real Madrid in the first round on their ground. Both for Real Madrid and for PSG, it is a big advantage to start the group stage at home with the support of their fans. They are top teams of European football, and they sometimes get such advantages.

- Will you deploy defensive tactics?
- You will see it on the pitch. Let's see what Real Madrid will offer us. Depending on this, we will build our game. I have watched a few matches with our opponents: against Sporting Gijon, who demonstrated good organisation of the game in defensive actions, as well as the match versus Espanyol, who probably thought that they could beat Real Madrid at home. I have also seen a good match involving Galatasaray, who faced Real Madrid in the Bernabeu Tournament. Those, of course, were different games, but we have made conclusions about what would be the best option to play well with Real Madrid. Almost all of the opposition players are in excellent condition; they have played top-level friendly matches before the start of the domestic league campaign. They have an excellent coach with great experience, a great tactician, who knows how to build a team game. I am sure that Real Madrid will benefit from the fact that they are working under the leadership of Benitez.

- After the match against Metalist, you said that Shakhtar are not used to defend. Can it become a problem in the Champions League?
- I have talked about the fact that we have to constantly attack in the Ukrainian league. It is not that we do not know how to defend, we just have to do it a little. A delicate problem is that the recent years have seen us start our Champions League campaign on the road. It is very difficult, but we have shown that we can defend.

- Will support from Cosmin Contra and Razvan Rat have any effect?
- Their presence in the stands will not affect our players in any way. I do not think that their support will be felt in the presence of 100,000 fans.

- Several important players have left Shakhtar: Costa, Adriano. Besides, you cannot play on your ground. What are your goals in the Champions League, taking all the above factors in the account?
- By the way, I watched and analysed the match between Real Madrid and Milan in China. Adriano looked confident during 45 minutes he played. I am sure that he will have a very good Serie A campaign... I could also say the same about careers of all the players, who have left us: Fernandinho, Costa, Willian. It is the players, who were developed for top European football. In summer, the leaders of our club left, but we have a team who are probably considered the best in Eastern Europe. When losing our key players, our game is supposed to suffer, but at the same time, it encourages those, who remained, to play instead of those who left! Unfortunately, we have not signed new players in the past two years because of the situation in which we are in. We are trying to count on young Ukrainian players and trust those who are now in the team, because they are no weaker than those who have left the club. We have a strong team, I believe in them, regardless of the conditions in which we live and train. I want only one thing: to be respected. I did not feel that respect, when we played with the teams representing top leagues: Bayer, Manchester United, Bayern, Chelsea and so on.









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