Benfica faces SC Braga at 6:00 pm on Saturday at Estádio da Luz, on matchday 21 of the Liga NOS.
It is the third time that Benfica and Braga lock horns this season, the first since the opponent is coached by Rúben Amorim. What game do you expect this Saturday at Estádio da Luz?
We expect a very competent Braga team for what it has been doing throughout the season. They had a somewhat erratic campaign in the Championship in the early stages of the season, but also because of their excellent European campaign, and then last month it was the best team in Portugal for what it did in the Liga NOS League and the League Cup. Because of this, we expect a very competent opponent, who has changed its tactical system [to play with three center-backs in a five-player defensive line], with very good players. For us, it's the opportunity to play at home again, in front of our fans, and to do a good performance to win the game, because only a great team can beat Braga.
Do you fear that this tense atmosphere may be damaging for the remainder of the Championship?
Are we going to look at these things from football as bad moments? No! We have to look at these things as opportunities, and our opportunity is to put in a great performance tomorrow [Saturday] in front of our fans, that, at the end of the match at Estádio do Dragão, despite the loss against a direct opponent, sang the "Eu amo o Benfica!" [ I love Benfica!]. The opportunity we have in this match against Braga is for our players to put all their pride and professionalism on the pitch, to fight for every ball with huge ambition, so that the fans – and I already know that the stadium is sold out– are proud of the players and support them when they need them, and keep singing "Eu amo o Benfica" [I love Benfica]. This is the opportunity we have to take.
Text: João Sanches and Marco Rebelo
Photos: Tânia Paulo / SL Benfica