We need strong Shakhtar

Friday, November 8, 2019



Shakhtar manager Luis Castro recalled the game in Zagreb, assessed Marlos’ form, appreciated the strength of Tete’s character, and shared his take on the upcoming match vs Dynamo Kyiv in Kharkiv

- First of all, I’d like to clarify the personnel news. How are Konoplyanka, Solomon, and Stepanenko?
- Yesterday was a day off, and currently, the medical department are assessing the situation. Tomorrow we will know who we can count upon in the game against Dynamo.
- Is an extra day before the game your advantage?
- Yes, football is like that, but we’ll see whether it’s an advantage in practice. Teams with more tired players may sometimes be better. Sometimes, some fresher guys are stronger. We shouldn’t consider the upcoming match, taking into account the fact that we have a day more or less. It makes no difference. We are preparing for a tough game against an excellent team. Yesterday, we watched Copenhagen vs Dynamo - our opponents delivered a great performance with very strong attacking dynamics, also playing safe defensively. The team have a pretty good form now. We must control ourselves as much as possible in order to deliver a positive result.
- Yesterday, Oleksandriia’s manager Volodymyr Sharan said after the match vs Saint-Etienne that they were inspired by your comeback in Zagreb. Have you watched that game?
- During the season we already had a few occasions when we showed that we don’t give up. Shakhtar are a team with a very strong character and effective performance. Already against Atalanta we have demonstrated that the match continues to the last second. Fortunately, we managed to do that in Zagreb. And in the Cup clash against Dynamo at Olimpiyskiy, it was also present when we brought the game to extra time. In each match, the team are fighting for a positive result. If others get inspired by us, then there is every reason for that. The guys fantastically show in practice that the game ends only with the ref’s final whistle.
- How will the match against Dynamo in the Championship differ from that in the Cup?
- They have different features. In the Cup, after the game, you can’t do anything at all, while the Championship is a longer competition. Probably, the players will act a little differently. Each meeting has its own story, even in terms of the strategies that the teams adapt to a particular match.
- In case of victory over Dynamo, you will be 13 points clear. Can we say that the future of the title has been decided?
- No way. If in the 90th minute the score is 3-1, but it’s still not known who will win it, then the Championship is not over yet in this round.
- Which Dinamo is stronger - Zagreb or Kyiv?
- I think that after the match against Dinamo Zagreb, we all had an aftertaste that we could show more given the outcome. I feel that playing in Kharkiv we made the mistakes that were fatal. In Zagreb, we again made certain errors that made our game not balanced enough. And in the end, I felt both disappointment and joy. Disappointment, because we could have won and before the 80th minute we did everything, and joy from the fact that we managed to earn one point. In all games against Dynamo Kyiv, we feel that they are a very and very strong team. Yesterday, they proved it again. We will face enormous difficulties. But I am by no means saying that Dinamo Zagreb are not so strong – they are the Champions League team.
- Didn’t you think of making Tete the full-time penalty shooter?
- We are going to talk about Tete’s penalty shot, just because he scored a goal. Otherwise, you would probably believe now that he never needs to take spot-kicks. Football is always like that. But talking about the psychological component, that’s quite another thing! Probably, had I been on the pitch, I wouldn’t have wanted to take that shot. Tete showed great confidence, and it delighted me. I am always pleased with the energy the guys bring into play. At the moment of the duel, when chaos is already prevailing, energy costs much more than rationality. While the play was rational, we had to win it, we deserved it. Nevertheless, we were behind score wise, but we managed to turn the game around. The energy of all the guys on the pitch was very important and helped us to end it in a draw. That’s right, Tete has a very strong character.
- What do you make of Marlos’s form?
- It’s absolutely normal that some guys are more tired than others. We must consider everything fairly. There are footballers who played in the Championship, Cup, Champions League, and also they played for their national teams. You’ve just called the name of the footballer who got somewhat tired of those competitions, but who gave us a lot on the field this season. And last season, let me remind you, he was injured and did not play for a long time. We all need to respect the players for what they do in football all the time.
- How superstitious are you? Will you continue turning away in penalty situations?
- We work a lot during the season to achieve a certain goal in the end. We have a very big compromise to make it to the Last 16. We knew very well that at that moment everything would be decided and that we would have no more playing time. Had we had five, two, or even one minute left, that would’ve been a different matter, but it was clear that the match would end. We were losing absolutely unfairly. At some points, the pressure really rises. Often fans look at the players and coaches and think that we are robots. But we are people, and we make mistakes. That hyper-tense episode was the first in my career when I couldn’t watch it. But I will always be with my team at good and bad moments. Thank God everything worked out. Let's be honest - it’s not my glance that could redirect the ball towards the Back of the net. I did at that moment otherwise.
- You played against Dynamos of Khatskevich and Mykhailichenko. What difference did you see?
- I think it would be completely unfair to compare Dynamos under different coaches at different times. People always want to match us. They already compare me with Paulo, with the things he did or didn’t do. Those are completely different coaches, styles, fielded players. We must analyze it at a specific moment, and today Dynamo are very strong. We need a very strong Shakhtar in order to defeat Dynamo.