Mircea Lucescu: Team grow from match to match

Friday, April 15, 2016



Press conference by Shakhtar head coach in the wake of the meeting with Braga

- It proved to be a very entertaining game. I am sure everyone is happy, with the audience to have supported us today having much fun. Throughout almost the entire match, they were chanting: ‘Ukraine! Ukraine!’ That’s very nice, very important. The team from Donetsk was received today and supported here in Lviv with such warmth... At first it was difficult. I think, Braga even had some territorial advantage. Had they scored at that point, we, probably, would have had some very tough time. We played defensively in a very organised and disciplined way, blocking all spaces in order to organize quick attacks or counterattacks after tackling. And we managed it. The first goal was our collective attack. And Kovalenko, who was last to receive the ball, very well dealt with the chance, just as an experienced 30-year-old player: he bear the goalkeeper with a volley and earned a penalty kick. After that, Braga still had strength to respond with attacking moves, but in the second half they disappeared completely. Probably, the third goal just demoralised them, with us enjoying every advantage.

- Earlier you said that Shakhtar’s level is not sufficient to win the Europa League title.
- Now I can repeat the same thing, I am not going to say anything new. From match to match we look increasingly better, but I still stick to my opinion. I’ve had a reason to say so. Six new players have joined the first XI: Ishmaily, Malyshev, Kovalenko, Ferreyra, with Ordets playing more and more, with Marlos becoming a major player after the departure of Douglas Costa. It was not that easy to replace six or seven players and retain the same level. The more so as you know how we played in the Champions League against PSG and Real Madrid. Currently, the team have been growing from match to match. Out of the most recent six Europa League games, we’ve had five wins and one draw. That’s very important. We will prepare for each subsequent match and see what happens. Perhaps we do not have the experience of the teams to appear in the semi-finals. Once again: six new players on the roster! I am pleased with the fact that the team performance gets better and better. Combinations and attacking synchronicity are improving. Through that we have claimed a win. Plus, in Europe they have a completely different level. O differ from the domestic games: negative refereeing, faking it, time wasting and so on ... When the team are allowed to play, they do it just like today.

- What’s the reason behind such performance? Is it Shakhtar who are at such a high level or is it Braga who did not fully prepare for it?
- As I’ve just said, today was a great performance. A very interesting match. Braga showcased some strong and focused fluid performance early in the first half. Then we tried to make it complicated with our counterattacking moves, in which such players as Marlos, Kovalenko and Taison are very strong. I will say just one thing: Braga could have done better at home. Here we’ve had a clear advantage.

- Mister, today Darijo Srna has made his record appearance. Who is he for Shakhtar?
- That’s incredible - 486 apps for one and the same team! 13 years at one club... He has always played all games to high standards. Being an example for the young players. Darijo deserves only compliments. I would wish him to reach the mark of 600 apps. When you stay at one club for a long time, then it is very difficult to leave! Probably, Darijo’s situation is just like that. He could not leave Shakhtar, although throughout his career, he had a lot of opportunities to change the club. I do not think any of the Brazilians could stay for such a long period - they have a very different interpretation of life and attitude to it. Darijo has liked the team, alongside the city and the president. When this happens, sometimes you give more than you can!