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Amorim: "We have to have the ball against SK Sturm Graz"

By Sporting CP
21 Sep, 2023

The coach previews the Europa League opener

Sporting Clube de Portugal start their UEFA Europa League campaign this Thursday with an away game against SK Sturm Graz.

Upon arrival in Austria, coach Rúben Amorim gave a press conference to talk about the keys to victory.

"Only a Sporting CP at our best level will be able to bring the three points home. The objective is always to win and it is a source of extra motivation that Sporting CP have five defeats and two draws in Austria from our seven games. In order to win, we have to play very well and take the game to the terrain that we want. We have to have the ball and if we manage that, we will be closer to winning. It will be a very difficult game, but we have the desire to win, as always," he began by saying.

The coach of SK Sturm Graz, Christian Ilzer, named Sporting CP as complete favourites, something that Amorim rejected.

“That was kind of Christian. I've always had good players and that's why maybe there's that idea. We don't let ourselves be carried away by being favourites, as we know very well the challenge we face tomorrow. To overcome all the challenges, we have to have all our players at their best. We will make normal rotations according to the characteristics of the players. Some players who will be starters have already been so in the league."

"We want to have the ball. No one is tired, everyone is hungry to play, but we will bring in the best players for the characteristics of the game and the opponents."

"SK Sturm Graz will press all over the pitch. They are a very courageous team. The coach wants to put the pressure on the opponents. SK Sturm Graz were closer to getting into the Champions League than us, and Sporting CP have more appearances in the Europa League. We want to reach a level where we go into the Champions League every year and it didn't happen last year because of our own fault. The objective is to win the game and get through the group stage. What matters is what happens on the field of play, and it will be very difficult tomorrow. I don't care about favourites and I'm excited to see our team's response," he replied.

“Our opponents are good as a whole, but their  number 10, Otari Kiteishvili, impressed me in the offensive and also defensive aspects, with the way he presses and his fitness. They are very strong in duels, on set pieces, they have a very fast central defender, several players who play in different positions, very fast wingers... The way they press left me very impressed. We have to be strong with the ball to impose our identity. The pressing across the entire pitch and the speed with which they win the ball and counterattack are their characteristics,” he warned.

Amorim assured that Sporting CP are treating the Europa League with maximum ambition, although he did not hide the importance, above all, of Liga Portugal.

“The main objective is to be champions and we are going game-by-game for that, as that brings us Champions League football. Being champions is the ultimate objective and it is the most important thing, not only for the future and for the financial aspect. We want to advance in the Europa League, we have the cups as well, and everyone has to be prepared and feel important. Marcus [Edwards] and Trincão are international players, we are not talking about players that we will rotate in and that the team will suffer for having. The rotation will be done with one priority: Becoming champions. We want to be champions again, because that's what's most important; it has nothing to do with our opponents."

“The Champions League looks at Sporting CP as outsiders. The Europa League does not. The degree of difficulty is different. It's people's perception, also because Sporting CP have spent more time in the Europa League, have a different history in the competition and have reached very advanced stages in several editions. This gives a different status. In the Champions League, any away win is a very important result. As for us, we don't view competitions differently; there are also unknown opponents in the Europa League, but of great quality."

Amorim also revealed that Adán will be the starter in goal and that Coates will be part of the first eleven, before expressing his confidence in a Sporting CP side that, season after season, are increasingly prepared for the demands.

“Knowing whether you are more prepared or not has to do with time. It's still very early. Let's see in the future if we are better prepared. The team have more experience.The team have grown, we know better what we want from games. Before, we were searching for our identity more. The LASK game [Linz, in 2020/2021] never left our minds, it was perhaps the worst day we have had in Alvalade. It reminds us of where we started from. We are much more of a team now, but we know that those days can happen. We are more prepared now, let’s see if we can prove that tomorrow."