Getting the best out of ourselves. Dream? Scoring in extra time

Jindřich Trpišovský spoke to journalists at the press conference ahead of the Europa League second leg against AC Milan about the keys that could lead Slavia to advancement, the squad´s health status, potential penalty shootouts, and the possible return of Tomáš Holeš to the midfield.

How will you present yourselves in the second leg, where you´ll be chasing a two-goal deficit?
"We´re setting up for a full house, fans will come to see a big game. I believe all fans in the country are looking forward to watching a Czech club against a world-class team. We want to deliver the best performance possible, both football-wise, mentally, and physically. We want to continue the work we started a week ago in Milan. We want to handle the game, we want to advance. Then we´ll see what it will be enough for. How we can match them in the pressing game, in ball possession. We want to bring out the best in ourselves, deliver the best and most daring performance. That´s how we think; we know we´re chasing a deficit, but we also know the quality we´re facing. But we´ll try to press the opponent as much as possible."

What do you think about potential penalties, about which you said in Milan that you wouldn´t mind them? Did you watch the penalty shootout between Arsenal and Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday?
"I didn´t watch it, we had training. I watched Milan against Rennes and Milan against Empoli at home. I only had AC on my schedule. I hate penalties, I can´t stand them. As a fan, of course, I liked them; during the World Cup and European Championships, I always looked forward to them during extra time. I enjoyed that a lot. But as a coach, I don´t want to experience them. The last thing I want is for penalties to decide on advancement and success. I think a potential shootout at home is even more challenging; there´s immense pressure on the shooters. I wished for extra time for that reason because we lost the first game by two goals, and if it went to extra time, it would mean we won the match, erased the deficit. And we would have given the fans an extra dose of football minutes, which would have been nice. From this perspective, I wished for it. If I could dream up a scenario, it would be to get the game into extra time and decide it there. Like it was against Sevilla, Raków; those were beautiful experiences. That would be a bonus. Again, I say we want to deliver the best performance possible; we want to be responsible defensively like at San Siro, be dangerous going forward. But at the same time, be aware of the strong opponent we´re facing. As I´ve already said, when I watched AC against Rennes, they were able to demonstrate incredible things under pressure with the ball; they were dangerous on the wings through Leão with Pulisic."

What´s the status of the squad´s health? Will Lukáš Masopust be ready, are you considering reviving Ševčík and Zafeiris?
"You hit close, we´re reviving Zafeiris, we´re reviving Ševčík. There´s some chance there; everyone wants to recover for such a match. For Lukáš, it´s rather unlikely; there´s only a small hope. We´ll see after today´s training, after the examination. But we also have to consider our schedule; there´s a league match on Sunday, then an international break, and more matches to come. They´re key players for us; we won´t go into unnecessary risk. To answer, Lukáš probably won´t be available, Šéva and Zafim are trying to get ready for at least part of the match. These positions bother us; for such difficult matches, you need some cards to shuffle. We´ll also see how Ivan Schranz is doing; he´s awaiting examination, he played in Milan with great self-denial, he wasn´t even on the pitch against Teplice. We´re trying to include him in the lineup; otherwise, the lineup will be very similar to the one that played against Teplice."

How do you think Tomáš Vlček is handling the four-back system?
"With some games, we returned to the 4-5-1 system; we were looking for wingers, wing positions. What Olayinka and Sima used to play for us, we need special types of players for that, so we pulled Doudis up, back to the wing. With Tomáš, I´m really glad he handled it like this. The typology of the games we´re playing now determines why he´s in that position. Tough duels, top players play on him. And he´s doing great. It allows us to play with a safe right-back, have more height on the left. Sometimes we play in that four with both defenders higher; it varies from game to game, and thanks to Tomáš, we can play with it. As I said, he´s doing great; really great players have played on him. I´m happy with him; he´s one of those players we´ve had in the team for a long time. Just like Matěj Jurásek, for example. They both peeked into the team at 17/18 years old for a year, gained some experiences needed to play big matches with us. After loans, they came back to us; I love these stories. I believe there will be more talents who will experience the same. Tomáš has the disposition for European football, big matches; from my point of view, he´s improved immensely in initiating and supporting offensive activities. He´s observed a lot in nine months, for example, from Doudis, and he´s able to apply them to the game."

Recently, you said that Tomáš Holeš is exclusively a center-back for you. Aren´t you considering returning him to midfield for such an occasion, considering his last dance?
"Nice question; it would be nice if it worked out that way. That option exists; we´ve discussed it with Tomáš. We would need to look into the crystal ball for Thursday to know how the game will develop. We have our style, AC has its characteristic style, and it will be important which team can impose its style on the other. Then the occupation of those positions will be crucial. If the game goes in a certain style, it may come in handy for us. If it goes in another style, then the other composition will be better. But you´ll find out when the game starts. Tomáš is one of the options; we have it in mind because there´s a big personnel shortage. It will also depend on Petr Ševčík; Christos certainly isn´t in a condition to start. We need to assess how much of a health risk it would be for Šéva, how he would handle such a game on the fly. We know the strength AC Milan has; we saw the deadly counterattacks after losing the ball from the game in Rennes. We´ll still evaluate it; we´ll wait for training. Tomáš is one of the options for how we could help ourselves."

How did the week after the first match with AC go from your perspective? For Tomáš Holeš, it was a beautiful week…
"Tomáš told you from a player´s perspective; sometimes I would like to experience that too. Play twice with AC Milan and then watch the guys from the bench on Sunday, how they handle it. From a player´s perspective, it´s great; from a coach´s perspective, it´s a work massacre. Prepare for the game in Milan, then quickly analyze it on Friday and prepare for Teplice in two days. From the perspective of the coaching staff, it´s demanding. On Monday, you quickly prepare for Milan again, and then on Sunday for Liberec. That´s the work aspect, but we´re used to it; we like it. You just don´t enjoy it as much; there´s a lot of work, a lot of traveling. From a personal perspective, it´s great; a doubleheader with AC Milan is a holiday, it´s similar to Rome. You play a game in Milan, where thousands of fans came to see us. I watched the second half, and in some phases, they´re really heard more than the home team. Then we managed the home game in front of an incredible crowd for a league match. The guys who played helped us a lot because Holi, Mojma, Doudis, and the others could jump off the carousel and have more preparation for the football holiday coming on Thursday. It will be a football holiday with everything, regardless of the outcome. Progression, non-progression, but you can still come and watch Leão, Giroud, or back to Kjær and another great emerging generation. The guys will stand up to them and want to match them, make it difficult for them. We´ll end the week on Sunday with Liberec; I wouldn´t forget that. It´s another home game; people can come to it, a specific game for us. From a football perspective, it´s a great period."


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