Just over 24 hours before the Liga NOS resumption, after a forced interruption caused by COVID-19, Bruno Lage returned to the Press Conference Room of Benfica Campus to preview the home match against Tondela.
The Championship will resume after a long stop and Estádio da Luz will host the first match without fans. Against this background, what game can we expect against Tondela?
It's all unprecedented. The stoppage in the middle of the Championship and a longer stoppage time than usual. Then, the match... to foresee what the opponent can do and play at Estádio da Luz without the fans. The return will be against a competent, difficult team, which has made an interesting campaign. The reverse fixture was tough. Tondela may play in 4x3x3 or with a five-player defensive line, and may play in the counter-attack. We expected to have a strong re-entrance and that is what we focused on, considering our quality and potential. The response mustbe given. The fans aren't there, but they're watching us.
This is a new moment in football. Do you think the teams that perform better in the first three rounds after the return are closer to success?
There is the consequence of stopping too long and then there is the accumulated fatigue of playing almost immediately. To hit the ground running and then get to the fourth, fifth, sixth match [after the resumption] with accumulated fatigue and shorter recovery time … Every match is important because the point difference is very short. There are several factors. There are the injuries, there are players who can get infected... We have to step onto the pitch and win.
Text: Diogo Nascimento, Filipa Fernandes Garcia and Marco Rebelo
Photos: Tânia Paulo / SL Benfica