Amorim: "There are no favourites in 'O Clássico'"
The coach speaks on the eve of the game against FC Porto
Sporting Clube de Portugal return to action this Saturday at the Estádio José Alvalade, facing FC Porto on Matchday 5 of the Liga Portugal season.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated contest, coach Rúben Amorim spoke to the media in his pre-match press conference. The first question addressed to him was regarding the absence of last season's top scorer.
“Pedro Gonçalves won't be available either in this game, nor against AFC Ajax nor against GD Estoril Praia, at the very least," he informed.
"Gonçalo Inácio won't play against FC Porto, he is unlikely to play against AFC Ajax, and we'll see if he faces GD Estoril Praia. Tiago Tomás' availability is an unknown, but he won't play in this match either."
“Coates can play, but Ugarte won't because, whatever happens, he won't be better than Daniel Bragança or Tabata in that position -even though they have different characteristics. Apart from that, we are doing well and are prepared. We have a small squad, and therefore players from the B team who have worked with us will be part of the squad. This is our project, they are prepared to play for Sporting CP and prepared to win the game”, he guaranteed.
New signing Pablo Sarabia could make his debut in the game.
“He is a player who understands the game, and we have more Spaniards in the team. He has adapted and trained well, so he's another option for the game. He is a player who can give us assists and goals, he is experienced, is left footed and can play in the middle or on the wing. He has a lot of quality and, from what I've seen, he's another great player to join everyone else that we already have. He's a quality player who's come to help us."
Regarding the O Clássico, Amorim rejected the idea that this would be the most difficult game to prepare since he took over the club.
“When we arrived at Sporting CP there was a phase where we had to field young players to build a squad quickly, and that was the most difficult phase. These are injuries that give you headaches, but the project remains like this. We need opportunities to see other players, everyone is prepared and we are going to go for the game."
Young talents like Gonçalo Esteves and Tiago Ferreira could feature, according to Amorim.
“That is part of the project and I am not saying that it takes any responsibility away from Sporting CP. If we don't win, the responsibility is the same compared to if we had a squad full of superstars. This is our project and our way of thinking, and it will be like that until the end. The responsibility is the same and we have to win the game."
Finally, Amorim said he believes that neither team is the favourite in 'O Clássico.'
“It's 50-50. FC Porto have been hindered more as they had more players away with their national teams, who covered more kilometers on their trips. We had 12 or 13 players in the national teams, which is good for us as we completed the squad with young players. We had good training sessions and we are prepared. Even so, this does not mean that any one team or another is the favourite. Whoever is better on the night will win,” said the coach, who noted that he trusts the absence of Pedro Gonçalves will be covered. “Other players will come through to score goals. I'm confident the team won't be hurting,” he concluded.