Nuno Espirito Santo is calling for the Wolves players to embrace the Europa League, but know that the most important thing is to compete to the best of their ability.
Wolves are back in major European competition for the first time in 39 years and welcome SC Braga to Molineux on Thursday evening, but despite facing a side from his home country, the Wolves head coach insists facing his compatriots does not make the game more special.
On bringing European football back to Wolves
“It’s not only me, everybody should be proud; fans, the club, the staff, the players – we’ve all contributed to what we’re going to live tomorrow.
“We are in the Europa League group stage; let’s enjoy the moment, but let’s compete. What’s more important is that we want to keep on growing, keep on improving, knowing this is not the final step.
“We still have a long way to go on the ladder. We look forward to every game that we have in front of us.”
On expectations of Braga
“Braga is an opponent that we respect, that we analyse, and we want to compete again tomorrow.
“They are a very balanced, competitive team, so I don’t think there are favourites. They have some very good players and they’re a very good team, so it will be a great game tomorrow.
“I don’t know what Braga are going to do. I know they’re a very good team, very well organised, well managed by Ricardo [Sa Pinto] and it will be a very good game.”
On facing a Portuguese opponent
“I don’t think it’s anything different. Our analysis is the same, I’ve observed the team; I don’t think it’s anything special.
“Tomorrow, Braga will know the players and all our opponents are the same. Obviously, it may be different when we go to Braga for the Portuguese players who will be going back to our country.”
On approaching a group game compared to knockout
“It’s not different. Our approach is to go game by game, so each game – no matter what competition, no matter what opponent, we just go to compete and play the game.
“This is the way we do things – since the beginning – game by game. The last game is a reference for us to work on, to analyse, to see what we did good, to see what we didn’t do so good, try to improve on it.
“Offensive aspects, defensive aspects – all the same, but our approach is always looking to the next challenge. The next one is tomorrow and that’s totally what we are focusing on.”
On analysing Chelsea defeat
“There are a lot of things [which went wrong]. We must improve on our defensive organisation, we must improve on our shape, knowing that we made mistakes that we cannot repeat.
“You have to maintain focus no matter what happens in the game. You have to stay on the game, whether you score, you don’t score, you get a goal – you stay on the game. So, there are things that we have to improve for tomorrow. A lot of things.”
On rotating his players
“This is how you have to do things. What’s more important is that we have a plan, we have a strategy and we work.
“The players understand that, from day one, this season was a new challenge. We had to play qualifiers, play-offs, compete against very strong teams in the Premier League, and the future is what is ahead of us – Thursdays, Sundays, Thursdays, Sundays. It’s a challenge that we want to embrace and compete in every game.
“Tomorrow, on the right side we have the options of Vallejo or Bennett. We have options for the left side, we have Saiss, Max [Kilman] and Boly; the three are ready to go. Coady is ok, Coady’s going to play – he always plays.
“We are prepared for it and we have all the squad ready to go.”
Pick up one of the last remaining tickets for Thursday’s match here.