Before the first leg of our Champions League tie against Benfica, Sobolev and the manager appeared in front of the press for a routine press conference. The transcript of the same is given below:
Vitoria: Good afternoon, a special welcome to all journalists that have come here from Portugal! I think Benfica is the hardest opponent we could’ve come across at this stage. Two difficult matches await us, but the guys are full of energy and desire. I am convinced that Russia deserves to have as many representatives in it as possible.
Speaking about the team’s injury situation:
Promes probably won’t be able to play, Maslov is also not ready yet. Moses and Dzhikiya picked up slight injuries in the last match, but we hope they will be able to help us. Ponce has just returned from the Olympics still needs time to be ready again, but will be in the squad tomorrow.
On comparisons between Spartak and Benfica:
I worked at Benfica but today’s technology allows us to study opponents in such detail that this advantage is practically nullified. Our trump card tomorrow is the home advantage.
Unlike the guests, we have already played several official matches this season. On one hand, this is a plus. However, it also means that we had less time to prepare for this particular match, and some players have picked up mini-injuries. So essentially, we are at a level playing field. Much like the colours of both clubs, the preparation levels are similar.
On how we plan to play tomorrow:
Recently Benfica has strengthened itself well. The team has a lot of players with extensive international experience. You shouldn’t expect any special changes from us but of course, we have our own plan. In the last few games, we created a lot of chances and intend to continue in the same way. We are not going to park a bus.
Sobolev, speaking about the restrictions on fans in the stadium: There will be only three thousand spectators in the stands, but I have no doubt that their support will be akin to a full stadium. We know how many fans we have in different cities, many of them will be rooting for Spartak through their screens, and we appreciate this. It’s taken me a long time to make my Champions League debut so I will try to be at my best tomorrow. Most of all however, I have dreamed of hearing the tournament anthem in the stadium. I’ve heard that this does not happen at this stage, so we have to keep fighting!