Benfica coach Roger Schmidt believes Inter ‘know how to adapt’ as they ‘have so much experience and so much quality’ in their team. The Nerazzurri are going through a tough spell as the season comes to a close, having failed to pick up a win in their last 5 matches in a row, piling pressure onto coach Simone Inzaghi ahead of their Champions League match with the Portuguese champions. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Schmidt pointed to the positives in Inter’s favour, namely the quality of their squad and their added motivation during a tough patch:
An Italian team again, what are the difficulties?
“I think that, at this point, you only face great teams. For both sides it is a crucial match, Inter is a top team, very focused. We want to play our best football and we have to be ready for a very strong team, with so many individual qualities and so many options, I think we know what we have to do, which is a top performance.”
Did you review the match between Porto and Inter?
“Of course, and we did not only see those two matches. Inter is a very experienced team that knows how to play offensive football if they need to and can defend very well. They have an Italian style, but they know how to change a lot: we have to be ready for anything.”
What will you have to change from Friday’s game?
“It’s part of football to lose games. We lost an important one on Friday, but in the past we have won a lot and that is also part of a growth process. Defeats should be used for something positive, in the last two days we have been thinking only about Inter.”
How much can Joao Mario help you?
“I hope a lot, as throughout the season. He is a key player for us, he is the vice captain, he has a lot of leadership and I think he has played very well so far. Not only for goals and assists, but also for his reliability. Otamendi will not be there, we will need leadership on the field.”
Gilberto, Morato, Grimaldo: will they play tomorrow?
“I will not say the lineup. If you then tell me Inter’s, maybe. We won’t have Otamendi, but we have two very good substitutes like Verissimo and Morato: it’s a pity we couldn’t play as much, it’s difficult when you have a top player like Nicolas in front of you. Tomorrow one of them will be a starter and the other will come in from the bench. Grimaldo? He is available.”
Is this the best time to play against Inter? Has the draw been judged favorable to Benfica?
“Mah, the draw is the draw: both teams deserved to be here. Inter maybe are struggling in the league, but they have so much experience and so much quality in the league. It’s a special match for everyone, from me to the players: I expect extra motivation from them, it’s a very big game. But I also expect it from the opponents. I have no doubt about their quality, they will be ready and we will have to be ready in the same way. Without forgetting that then there will also be the return leg.”