Favbet Puma SCM

Perfect performance of the team, everyone was fantastic

Wednesday, November 8, 2023



Press conference of head coach of Shakhtar Marino Pusic after the victory over Barcelona (1-0)

– Mister, you have already made history with Shakhtar in Ukrainian football. A simple question: how did you do it? Do you believe that the team can go to the next stage of the Champions League?
– How did we do it? Like I said, if you come to play a game, you have to show yourself, to compete. This is the attitude I want to see in my team from the beginning. This is what I ask from them. Secondly, you have to believe in a good ending, because everything starts in your thoughts. You have to believe and act. Of course, we also had a game plan. We analysed our last meeting and the games that Barcelona played between our two matches. We made some significant changes. The players were phenomenal. I have to say that Barcelona were in possession longer, but we could have scored even more without conceding at all. Perfect performance of my team. And as for the second question. We are not thinking about the next stage. I will be honest, all my thoughts are now focused on the next game, which will take place in the Ukrainian League and will be a tough one. Tonight we are celebrating, because we deserve it, but tomorrow me and my team will be fully focused on the next match in the championship.

– First of all, congratulations on the victory. Stepanenko and Sikan could not continue the match due to injuries. How serious are they?
– We do not know yet. Unfortunately, they had to finish the game earlier than I expected. I think that both of them are strong guys, warriors. We will see how big the damage is, but I expect them to be back very fast.

– How does a historic victory feel for the manager?
– It is very sweet. But it is sweet not only for me. Of course, I am very glad, but I am tremendously proud of my players and all people at the club who have worked very hard to help me achieve what we achieved tonight.

– We have seen that Kryskiv and Sudakov played a really good game, dominated the field. Was it planned or were you surprised by their talent?
– I was never surprised by their talent, because I knew their talent. I saw them play against Feyenoord when I worked there, so I knew what kind of players they are. At the same time, every young player has to develop to reach the next level and always demand this from themselves. And the guys showed tonight that they are capable of reaching the next level. I am very proud of them and the whole team. This is a team achievement. The team make individual players better, not the other way around. They were fantastic, of course, but the team were also fantastic.

– In the second half, Shakhtar started to defend. Was there a risk of conceding?
– It is necessary to take into account the opponent we played against. First of all, we did not want to defend, but when your opponents are so strong, they force you to do it. We knew this could happen, so we made the appropriate plan. We closed the important space, we created opportunities for counterattacks, we were good in transition. I think it is an amazing achievement for my team not to concede a single goal. We stood as a wall. We did not give any chance. Speaking of defence, it is a fantastic achievement. We tried to play, we wanted to play, to build up, but it is not always easy to keep possession for a long period when you have to defend against such a strong opponent. But the way we came out of defence, arranged attacks, threatened them, again, was fantastic. I think we could have scored more than one goal. So, the reason was the strength of the opponent, which forced us sometimes to be a little bit lower than we wanted. Still, then you have to be dominant. For me, it is also shown not only in ball possession, but also in moments without the ball. And if you dominate at that level, there is a big chance to win, like we did tonight. I think, when you see the overall picture, you understand that we deserved it.

– Did the players execute your plan perfectly?
– Yes, as I said to your colleagues, it was a perfect execution of the plan. My players deserve the biggest compliments. I can make up something in my mind, I might have a plan, but they have to implement it on the pitch – and they were fantastic, so I want to give them all the credit. Like I said, it is not easy to play against Barcelona. This is a very strong team, they are fantastic on the ball, have tremendous qualities everywhere. And you have to be very brave to do what you want. We want to play, we want to have the ball, and we tried to do that as much as we could. And this is the part I am most proud of – not only the perfect defensive organisation and work, but also the fact that we tried to build up, to keep the ball, to create moments any time we could. Like I said, if you watch the game, we could score one more goal, but whether it was offside, I do not know. We really deserved to win this game.

– Shakhtar will have a very busy end of November. Will you ask to postpone the UPL matches due to the workload in the Champions League?
– I do not know. I am not the guy who postpones matches, I am used to playing at a high rhythm, two games a week. But, unfortunately, the situation in the country is such that you can call it a home game, but for us the tremendous part is travelling, and sometimes we need an extra day or two to recover. It is not only about the game and the fact that we put a lot of effort and energy into it, but also about recovery after travelling. Therefore, it is not so easy. So, it is possible that we will change something. I am glad that there is such flexibility, that is good, because it is also important for Ukrainian football and the country to be represented in Europe like we did tonight. But I also like the rhythm of the games. Let’s see.

– First of all, congratulations. And second of all, before today I read a quote where you said there would be potential for European spring but in the Europa League. Have your goals changed after tonight’s victory? And I would like to let you know that the last time Shakhtar beat Barcelona was in the 2008/09 season, when they went on to win the UEFA Cup. Maybe it is a good omen?
– How beautiful it would be. Like I said, we have to stay humble and think step by step, game by game. This is a very strong group, we have got two big matches to go. And, everything is possible, of course. But honestly, I am not thinking about that at all tonight. I noticed that I was walking here and I was already thinking about the next game in the Ukrainian championship. So, if we achieve that, it will be fantastic, if not – the European spring is also a great result for this club under these circumstances.

– I am sorry, you already talked about Heorhii Sudakov, who was the man of the match. Maybe you can tell us a little more about him and how difficult it is to evolve as a young player in Ukraine under these circumstances?
– It is definitely not easy. But, like I said, it is amazing how the players act in such conditions, how they work, how they focus. It deserves only big respect. What else can be said about Sudakov is that he is exceptionally talented player, and he has been showing it for a long time. And he is taking the next steps at this level, at the top level: not only in attacking part, but also in defensive part – that is what is needed for top level. He is a very intelligent guy with a great character, and I am very happy for him.