Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Bakero dreams of Europa League final
Its been eight years since a Polish side graced the last 16 of a UEFA club competition but, 1-0 up after the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie against Braga, Lech Poznan are on the verge of ending the wait.
Heres a interview with Lech Poznan coach Jose Maria Bakero who is getting ready for an important match against Braga..
The first leg in Poznan was played in difficult wintry conditions. The weather in Portugal is very different: could it be a big advantage for Braga?
Jose Maria Bakero: Well, Lech are not just a winter team, they can play in any conditions. I would like to remind those who seem to have forgotten that we beat Manchester City 3-1 on a pretty nice pitch. Braga have their hopes of qualifying and we have ours. We did the first part of the job in Poznan and hope to finish it in Braga.
Sunday's 1-0 home defeat by Polonia Warszawa in the Polish Cup quarter-finals is not ideal preparation. Do you fear it could affect your players' morale?
Bakero: No, not at all. The match in Braga will be totally different. Polonia played really deep and failed to muster a single shot on goal. They got lucky, winning thanks to a Manuel Arboleda own goal. You cannot compare it with the Braga match as there the home team will have to attack.
In the first leg, Artjoms Rudnevs took his tally to five UEFA Europa League goals this season, including a hat-trick at Juventus. He has been linked with a move away – will the rumors spoil his focus?
Bakero: Rudnevs is a fantastic person. He's a very talented player and always willing to learn. I wouldn't discourage him thinking about a possible move away. In fact, I'm delighted about the gossip saying a lot of clubs want him and a few other Lech players. It's proof I'm doing well here. If so many clubs want Rudnevs, it means he's playing very well – thanks, at least in part, to my influence as coach.
You recently admitted that you dream about reaching the Europa League final with Lech – is it just a dream or a realistic goal?
Bakero: My motto is 'keep your feet on the ground but don't give up your dreams'. I'm focused on Braga as I know it will be a tough game, but at the same time I'm dreaming. It would be fantastic to reach the final and play against one of the Spanish teams – Villarreal or Sevilla. Under my predecessor (Jacek Zielinski, whom Bakero replaced in November) and myself, Lech have done really well, with memorable games against giants like Manchester City and Juventus. We can do great things in this competition.
Posted by Adam Kutarnia at 6:23 PM