Ruben Neves is preparing for a historic night at Molineux as Wolves host SC Braga in the club’s first appearance in the main rounds of major European competition for the first time in 39 years.
After coming through the Europa League qualifying rounds, Wolves invite the Primeira Liga side to Molineux for the first of six group stage matches, and Portugal international Neves, one of seven Portuguese players in the gold and black first-team squad, is hoping his team can use their knowledge of their opponents to great effect come Thursday evening.
On a historic night at Molineux
“It’s going to be amazing for us because the club, just three years ago, was in the Championship – we’re in Europe now, so it means a lot to us and it means that we did great work in the last two years.
“For the fans, I think it’s going to be an amazing game. They are not used to seeing Wolves in Europe – since a long time ago – so it’s going to be a great game for us, and I hope the atmosphere at Molineux is going to be like usual.”
On what Wolves know about Braga
“Braga are a team that have been growing quite well and have been doing well in Europe over the last few years.
“As a team, we have the information that is necessary, but we focus on our team. We will do the best we can tomorrow and get back to winning ways, which is the most important thing for us.”
On playing a Portuguese side in Europe
“It’s good for me, it’s good for the Portuguese players because we know Braga, my best friend, Ricardo Horta, plays for Braga so it’s going to be special for me and for him as well. On the pitch, we are good friends, we are good teammates, but we want to win.
“We had a good rivalry with Braga when I was at Porto. The cities are close to each other and they are two of the big teams in Portugal. We know that it’s going to be a difficult game tomorrow against Braga, they are a big club, but we will focus on our game and try to get the first win in the Europa group phase.
“We have to take advantage [of having a large Portuguese contingent at Wolves], but we also have a great atmosphere in our stadium, so we have to play with that as well, but I know our fans are going to be with us again, like they are always. I am sure we are going to do our best to win.”
On start to the 2019/20 season
“It hasn’t been an easy start to the season, we’ve had extra qualifying games for the Europa League and the truth is the Premier League is the best league in the world and you’re always going to have these moments in the season.
“We need to return to winning ways as soon as possible, start playing to our level, get wins on the table and put Wolves where they deserve to be.”
On Europe influencing both teams’ league form
“I don’t think fatigue [from playing qualifying games] has anything to do with it. We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has to do with our position in the Premier League.
“Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.
“We have a lot of confidence. We know what we can do, we’ve proved in the past what we’re capable of, but it’s all about improving; improving our game and get back to winning ways as fast as we can.”