Jorge Sampaoli at the press conference
First team


He recognises that tomorrow's opponent "is aggressive, intense, persistent, organised and strong offensively".
Cuerpo Superior

Jorge Sampaoli had an extensive press conference a day before the league clash against Rayo in Nervión: "The Champions League match is in the past and we are now thinking about Rayo, which will be a very complicated game for us. We took advantage of the extra day of training to solidify our plans for the way we work with and without possession. We are on that path so that, despite our absences, the team has collective support."

When asked about the players who are affected by injury: "Isco couldn't train yesterday because he had some discomfort in his ankle, today he was better and tomorrow we're going to try him out. Fernando hasn't been able to overcome his injury and won't be there. Rekik is recovering gradually, not at 100 per cent to be able to play 90 minutes." 

"En-Nesyri had an injury that is not as serious as it seemed and hopefully, it won't be a problem for more than a week. Bono has a hamstring problem that won't allow him to train normally. We will wait until tomorrow to see if he can be available. The rest of the squad is available".

He was then asked about the appearance of a youth player at training: "When we saw Carlos Álvarez in the analysis we made before coming here, we saw a player who had some individual qualities that might make him close to a call-up. We are evaluating that, we only saw two training sessions of him and there is very little time, but we saw some qualities that could lead him at some point to be part of it, but I can't say now the timeframe". 

He also spoke fondly about Jordán's role in the last two games: "In Madrid and against Copenhagen he was the player who understood best how to play, in a position as important as that of midfield. He was the team's backbone, allowing a sharper start. He has done very well and let's hope he keeps up that level because when he does, the team plays better".

When asked about the opponents, he assured that "Rayo is a very aggressive team, with a lot of intensity and that makes them uncomfortable for any team to play. Against Atlético they ended up drawing at the end and they are persistent, with conviction, organised and strong offensively. It's going to be difficult for us because we're playing against a tactically sound team and we're still in the process of finding our tactics.

That's the big difference in the match. The change doesn't come by chance or by choice, we have to try to grow in many aspects so that the team can get the chance to win. We aren't going to win just because I'm here, but because we know our tactics, we feel comfortable with it and we try to change the narrative. This is more difficult than it seems because you have to make sure the team are on the same page with a new idea in the middle of the season, against teams that are already on the same page".

"We have to grow in several ways in order for the team to have the chance to win"

A process that, for the coach, is not taking any loner than normal: "I'm used to that and I see a great willingness to learn from the players. Then, it will be our quality that is going to make the team win and it will be linked to individual performances. The other day En-Nesyri scored a goal in a very good passage ofplay and we have to generate those situations through volume of attacks."

"The squad was built like that and with what we have we have to try to get those players who pass it round the middle to have a break, because without a break you can't attack the opponent. What's more, I think Suso had three or four shots in the first half, Isco had more scoring chances than he had all season and they're taking steps towards goal. For us right now, decisiveness is vital".

And regarding his style of play: "The idea is to try to get into the opposition's half with fewer passes, spend a lot of time there and generate more chances than the opposition. I want the opposition strikers to stay away from our goal. We are starting to build on these ideas. Once we've won a few we will move forward to work on other things, but until we find this base we will have to stop there.

Finally, he spoke about what the European victory meant: "Bringing joy back to these fans motivates us. Losing a game puts you in a bad place and that burden creates discomfort for the next game. We have to try and protect ourselves from these lapses in mental strength."