Opportunities are earned

Thursday, July 2, 2020



Shakhtar manager Luis Castro speaks about the importance of the meeting with Dynamo, the team’s goals, the players’ merits and personnel news

- Mister, after winning the title, do you consider the upcoming match against Dynamo as a major clash or a kind of training game?
- Of course, this match is important for us. There isn’t a single Clasico in the world that wouldn’t matter for the teams participating in it. When we approach the game, we don’t look at the standings. We respect the opponents and know that we need to show our best game to beat Dynamo. This team are competing for the second spot in order to get into the Champions League qualifying round. We know the kind of difficulties we are facing. We will face some really motivated and prepared opponents. We are trying to prepare for the encounter in the best way, we know the level of our responsibility and we get ready for it.
- This season, you have already beat Dynamo in the league on three occasions. Which of the victories do you remember best?
- That’s our home victory, when Kryvtsov scored after a corner delivery, and we extended our lead. In psychological terms, that match was important to us. On the contrary, it affected Dynamo not in the best way. At that moment, we managed to secure the kind of advantage that it was already difficult to catch up with us.
- You already said that three teams are competing for silver medals - Dynamo, Zorya and Desna. Shakhtar alternately play every contender and may influence this competition. Who do you think is more likely to finish in the second spot?
- We have no responsibility to shape the competition between other teams. We are not the ones to worry about the second or third spot. We try to achieve the maximum result and sit in the top spot. As a team, we may be successful or unsuccessful in the game. And saying that the second spot may be connected with Shakhtar’s performance would be incorrect. All those positions in the league table depend on the clubs’ performance in the Championship. We carry out our tasks and functions, we want to win all upcoming matches. When it doesn’t work out for us, when the opponents turn out to be better than us, being more competent on a certain day, they win, we accept that and congratulate them. In football, this works just like that and I don’t know anything else. I know my responsibility depending on what happens to us. And let the rest think of themselves. Saying that the distribution of spots depends on Shakhtar, because they will still play? No way. Those who fight for this or that position decide their own future. I can’t say who will finish the Championship season in the second spot because all the teams are really competent. Dynamo, Zorya, Desna and the same Oleksandriia ... All of the top six sides are very skilled. I think anyone might end up in the second spot actually. What interests me the most is the fact that we are in the first spot.
- You now have the opportunity to experiment with the lineup, positions, tactics. Are you preparing any surprises for the remaining matches of the season? Will the young players, the reserve team players have more match time?
- Opportunities are not given - they are earned. It is the work that shows whether the player should be given the opportunity or not. I think that in life there is nothing worse than giving something to people who don’t deserve it. But it’s very nice, respectively, to give something to a person who deserves it. And this rule also applies to our daily work. The guys know that they are the ones to shape the starting XI in our team - not their coach. Because it is they who earn their place in the lineup. There are a number of factors that decide this, four very important components: mental, technical, physical and tactical. The balance between all of the above either brings a footballer into the game or doesn’t. Therefore, credit for the starting line-up of Shakhtar will go precisely to those guys. I will never give anything to those who don’t deserve it. Life has never given me anything if I didn’t deserve it. I try to do the same towards others.
- Junior Moraes is topping the scorers list. Will you give him a chance to score even more goals?
- I do not consider any personal records, thinking about them just as a team. I never set personal goals above those of the team. You know that in football everything happens absolutely naturally. If everyone proves themselves, then it’s absolutely normal when the players score goals while approaching the target. However, they always need the team: without it, no one can achieve anything.
- Maycon returned to training in the general group. Is there a chance to see him in competitive games before the end of the Championship? What other pieces of personnel news do you have at Shakhtar?
- Yes, all the working guys earn the opportunity to play. I know that all our footballers give their all and want to play. There is only one pleasant problem for me - to make a choice. Of course, before the end of the championship he will have some time. Unfortunately, we have some injury issues, and those are not muscle injuries: Alan Patrick, Kovalenko and Khocholava. Also, everyone knows that Malyshev, Ismaily and Bondar are out. These things have added a bit of negativity. They cannot play yet. I want to repeat, none of them has a muscle injury. Nevertheless, our team are experienced enough to overcome the difficulties we face. We have been the giants throughout the season and will be them until the very last game of the season. I count on everyone.