We will enjoy this game

Tuesday, October 4, 2022



Shakhtar head coach Igor Jovicevic answered reporters’ questions at the press conference before the match vs Real Madrid

– Igor, you had a coach ambition to return to the Santiago Bernabeu. Now you are probably dreaming to achieve a good result here. What mood do you and your team have?
– The team have absolutely good attitude. We are ready for the tomorrow’s match. The previous championship game gave us confidence and good emotions to go to Madrid for such responsible encounter of the Champions League with the best club in the world. Everything is possible in football and we hope to get our chance tomorrow in the Champions League.

– How does the stuff situation in the team look like ahead of the game?
– Theoretically, everybody is ready for the match. Totovytskyi has a minor injury and will not be able to play. All other players are preparing.

– It is very tough situation for your team, we all understand that Ukraine is at war. What do you tell to your players?
– We realize what responsibility we have in such situation. We understand that we represent Ukraine in the world. I was aware of all the complexity of the situation in the country from the very beginning of the invasion. But Shakhtar are an important team, too important in the East of Ukraine, like Real Madrid in Spain. And talking every day to the footballers, overcoming difficulties, we understand that we are not just players, but people as well. Everybody has families, friends and we are all passing it through and trying to find strength. We keep a close eye on advance of our Armed Forces of Ukraine and want to correspond to them: watching our army fight, we also try to fight on the field and win. We want to make our fans proud of us and we will try to give them these emotions.

– On Saturday, Real Madrid lost points for the first time in the season. You spent 5 years in Madrid-based club, do you have any mixed feelings before the match?
– No, I don’t: I belong to Shakhtar completely both with my heart and soul. Of course, I have pleasant feelings, because I returned to the stadium where I have started my player career. Tomorrow I will enter this stadium representing the biggest club in Ukraine. Clearly, I am proud to return to the Santiago Bernabeu and to realize that we can succeed. As for the Real Marid’s match with Osasuna, it is rather an accident. We don’t think that they entering a crises, but tomorrow we will see if we could make their little problems look repetitive.

– What does a coach forced to play outside the country and endure all these long transits feel?
– Sure, this situation may be considered as an experience, although this is not the first war in my life: once I came to Madrid leaving behind Yugoslavia at war. So I can tell from own experience that the most important thing now is to feel useful and help each other. But tomorrow nobody will think about our problems: why were we late, how much time the road took us, because today you are in Madrid, tomorrow you go to Warsaw and the day after tomorrow you find yourself in Lviv. You always move not stopping in one place. Of course, we got tired a little bit more than Real Madrid. It is not the same thing as chilling at home while our team spend time in flights. But we are very focused on the game and tomorrow we will attempt to represent Shakhtar in the Champions League the best we can. We understand that we are not the favourites, but we are going to enjoy the game tomorrow.

– What atmosphere do you expect tomorrow at the stadium?
– We understand that Blancos fans know how to support and root for their team. I know it from my own experience. However, my experience also says that when the Madrid public does not like something, it begins to whistle and show its dissatisfaction. We'll try to make a mark tomorrow and score. Whether we will be able to do this, we do not know. But we know that this stadium puts a lot of pressure. And we know that 6 footballers who have already won the Champions League play in Real Madrid. I'm new to this issue, but some of the players already have this experience. No one can take away our enthusiasm from us. We will believe in the impossible and make it a reality. And we will enjoy the match as much as possible tomorrow.

– Do you have enough time to follow the games and the situation with Vinicius Tobias?
– Yes, of course, although we are completely focused on preparing for matches and do not have much time to watch his game live, but we follow the news, we know how events develop at Real Madrid, how scouts and the administration look at it. We will see what decision the Madrid club will make. But we understand that a decision will be made regarding Vinicius: he was reviewed during the previous season, let's see how he will play at Real Madrid or Castilla. We have no doubt that he will progress and we will follow his performances.

– You crossed paths with Raul. Do you see him as a Real Madrid coach in the future?
– When he trained with us, we surely saw that this was a person. I remember we played a match against Real B and we lost that game. Jorge Valdano took him to the first team and after that, Raul made an incredible career. I am proud of him, I admire him as a person, as a human, as a player. Raul is undoubtedly an icon of Madrid.

– Today, Carlo Ancelotti said that Luka Modric is ready for the game. How did you take it?
– On the one hand, I am glad, because he recovered shortly before the start of the World Cup. Modric is an extremely important person for the Croatian national team, he can serve as a model for all his teammates, and the Croatian national team really needs such a player. On the other hand, we would like to see him safe and sound tomorrow and not play against us. I understand that he is training and will be ready tomorrow. We know that he is one of the best football players and are ready to play against the best ones. We'll also put up our best players, one of them is right now next to me. And, of course, Carvajal or someone else on the right flank of the defense will have enough problems from players like Mudryk. We will make every effort to create problems for them.

– Recently, the press has been talking a lot about the Super League again. What do you think about Shakhtar, Real Madrid in this context and how do you assess the prospects of the Champions League?
– Personally, I don't have any specific opinion on this. I understand that if you are the champion of your country, you want to continue playing in the top tournament. In our case, this is the Champions League. I wish everything stayed the way it is and no one would invent anything so that we would stay with the Champions League.