First team


The Sporting Director, in Istanbul, assured that "the first leg result is worse than the one we held when we travelled to Eindhoven and we struggled there, so we have to be better"
Cuerpo Superior

As is usual with every European away game, Monchi spoke on Thursday morning in Istanbul as he assessed the return leg against Fenerbahçe, which he hopes will see us qualify for the quarter-finals: "We come here with that objective, with a good advantage but the tie is by no means over, we will probably suffer at time this evening and will need to manage periods of the match and improve in some areas that we were not so good at in Seville. We need to do what we did best, as we did in the second half at the Sánchez-Pizjuán. The result is worse than the one we took to Eindhoven and we suffered there, so we have to be better. Fenerbahçe, like any good Turkish side, are strong on the counter-attack and they can cause you harm. We have to be good in defence and be together." 

Asked about the well-known 'Turkish fire', he commented that "we know the atmosphere will be very good for them, we know how these fans put pressure on the away side and this is a disadvantage for us that we will have to deal with, but I am inclined to think that the team is prepared for this. It could even end up being a motiving factor for our players".

That said, he recognised that the players have played a lot recently and this could work against us: "Evidently it can be a handicap for us because there isn't much of a chance to refresh. With so many injuries, we don't have the chance to rotate and those who played on Sunday are going to have to put in a big shift again. However, there is no solution, so we have to face up to this obstacle and overcome it. We had two important matches last week and we suffered, which is normal when you are at a stage in the season where you have so many problems, but it shows something important, that the team really wants this. Sometimes luck is on our side and other times it isn't, but we always show heart and a willingness to play and that is going to help us." 

"The team shows heart and a willingness to play, and that is going to help us"

With regard to whether it is crucial that we score tonight, Monchi said that "it would be ideal to score, but we have to play together as a team. The coach has planned this out well and we are going to see a match that is similar to Eindhoven. The first 75 minutes there are some of the best that we have seen since Jorge arrived and we hope to continue in this fashion." 

On the struggles we have faced this season, he commented that "the medic told me the other day that one day I will die on the pitch. We hope that this won't happen and that the team can suffer less, but tomorrow we will struggle at times because we are not definitely though and if we don't score, we are going to have tricky moments. I want to think that we won't be under this kind of pressure until the end of the season, but the teams beneath us in the league are keeping up with us and we might need 42 or 43 points to be safe. Now we have a long list of rivals who are fighting below us and we are going to have to wait and see, but I haven't come this far to talk about that. I have come to see us put in a professional performance today, a standard that this competition demands of you so that on Friday we can be in the draw."

Finally, he explained why Marcao is in Istanbul and he spoke about the injury list: "Marcao asked to travel for personal reasons and so that he could be with the team. I am an optimist, I think that the International break is going to be very good for us and although their returns might be staggered, I hope that Marcao, Karim and Papu will be available and can help out the team."