Rio coach praises the striker's good form, but reinforces Benfica's collective identity; Confirms that the Reds will be concerned about Rio Ave, as they remember the games against other title contenders; Rates 100 games; Aziz Mamah, Tanlungo and Helder Sa Ser
Rio Ave visits Estádio da Luz on Sunday, at 6pm, to take on Benfica. At the start of the match, Luis Freire confirmed that there would be no special interest in Rafa, who has scored for the Eagles in three consecutive matches.
“Benfica deserves this as a whole, because of the identity they have built since last year. It is a team whose routine is very well set, very strong on the ball, with attacking movement, through Rafa, Di Maria, Joao Mario, the striker, who could be Arthur, Moses or Tingstedt. They are players with a lot of dynamism up front. Rafa really stands out for his speed and the break he can do. We have studied the Benfica team and know where they are fed most often. We have defined this well, but there are dynamics of the game, which are always fluid and we always have to be attentive, and not just to this player in particular.
“However, we also have to play our game. We will not only look at them, they will have to look at us as well. We are a team that likes to play, prove our value, and put our players in the spotlight. Against other teams at the same level, we had good moments. We lost to Porto and Braga [ambos por 1-2] In the last minute, against Sporting, it was more difficult [0-2]. We know that going into the light is complicated. There will be 60,000 fans, and they are in good spirits, even for a win in midweek [3-2 frente ao SC Braga para os oitavos de final da Taça de Portugal]. “I realize all these difficulties, but we have a plan and we have a lot to appreciate for ourselves, because we also have quality.”
Regarding the fact that Vila-Condense has never won at Estádio da Luz, they accept the challenge. “It's a challenge for us. There is a day to win. We are ready for the match. We are a team that is growing in the championship. In the last seven matches, we have won 10 points and lost only one point. The results were also accompanied by exhibitions. In these big matches, we were competitive. “The responsibility lies with Benfica. We have a great ambition to win points.”
Luis Freire also takes stock of the 100 matches in which he managed Vila do Conde. “It tells a lot of stories. One hundred games is not every day you play at the club. It's a sign that we like being at the club, and are treated well. It is a feeling of honor, pride and gratitude for the trust not only from the previous administration, but also from this administration, which has given me all its support. I thank the players and the coaching staff, because 100 matches do not happen alone. During this period we were champions of the second league, then we achieved survival in the league last season, with many advanced matches and with the appreciation of the youth. The work we have done has been recognized, which is why we continue to lead Rio Avenue. This year, we face a great challenge, but we must be brave in the fight, and fight until the end. With everyone's help, we can, we have, and we will achieve the goal of continuity again, with a lot of sweat and sacrifice, but we are committed to doing so. We are a family searching for happiness.”
As for the match with the Reds, Luis Freire revealed that striker Aziz is “available” for the match, hiding the availability of midfielder Tanlungo and left-back Helder Sa: “We will see tomorrow.”
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