Mircea Lucescu: We played very well considering that it was our first match
Shakhtar’s head coach has granted a press conference after the game with Schalke.
- The score of 0-0 gives us a chance of reaching the next stage. We had expected a difficult game, so it happened. One could feel the difference between a team who had played many official matches in the league, and our side – we had not played a single official match. The first half saw an evenly matched game in terms of scoring chances, whereas in the second half Schalke looked a little more dominant. They were more aggressive in the final stages of their attacks. But I can say that today Pyatov put on a very fine performance: Schalke created a lot of problems, and Andriy solved them. We, in turn, probably lacked composure in some episodes when creating goal-scoring opportunities. Schalke looked fresher physically. This is normal. We still have a week to prepare for the second match. Now we know the potential of this team. We are unfortunate to have lost Kucher before the second leg – he would help us on the road. But we will play to the end and try to make the most of our chances in Gelsenkirchen.
- Team changes at Shakhtar open the doors to Ukrainians – there are more and more of them in the squad. How do you assess their actions in today's match?
- Fred cannot play, and we have to play with two holding defensive midfielders. It’s clear: one player is less involved in the attacks. Although Malyshev and Stepanenko played well when recovering the ball and during individual duels with the opponents. But the final pass, which a holding midfielder can make, has not come from them, sadly. We can recall how it was done by Fernandinho, Fred or Ilsinho. But I want to single out everyone without exceptions: we played very well considering that it was the first match! It also applies to two centre backs and goalkeeper... Gladkyy gave his best! Unfortunately, there were chances that he had to put away. Especially at the end of the second half: if he had struck first time, without trying to take control of the ball, perhaps he would have scored.
- Which of the injured players were the team missing the most and why?
- Firstly, I think neither of the injured players will recover before the second match. To recover, you also need to have a truly great desire. I hope that they will return to full fitness at least for the league campaign.
- What do you make of the fans’ support at this match? Is there any truth in rumours about Shakhtar moving to Odesa?
- We have heard nothing about Odesa. We will play here with Vorskla, Metalist and so on. Much will depend on how well we will play the match during this period. 0-0 is a positive result. It gives us a chance on the road. We have to use this result properly. The main thing is that we have kept a clean sheet. And if we had scored, it would have been just great.
- Are you satisfied with a Kovalenko game? Are you planning to continue deploying him in this position?
- After Teixeira’s departure, it was clear that Kovalenko would look the best in this role, although we tried using him in other positions too. Let’s hope that he will become even more useful, and that will come only with experience.
- Ismaily played instead of Shevchuk. Is Vyacheslav injured or does the Brazilian simply look better now?
- Ismaily looks better, so he was in the squad. Ismaily’s efficiency is now higher than that of Shevchuk and Azevedo.
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