César Peixoto says SL Benfica "had the quality to do better" in the UEFA Champions League as he set his sights on overcoming FC Schalke 04 and reaching the UEFA Europa League.
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César Peixoto says "winning is all that matters" for SL Benfica as they attempt to secure a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 by defeating FC Schalke 04.
Though an impressive performance would be welcome against the UEFA Champions League Group B leaders, emerging victorious and thereby not relying on Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC failing to beat Olympique Lyonnais in the other match is the only thing occupying the defender's thoughts. "Winning is all that matters now," said Peixoto, who expressed some regret at the way Benfica's campaign has developed.
"We're playing for pride and to achieve a place in the Europa League," the 30-year-old former FC Porto and SC Braga player added. "We are a bit sad because we expected more and we know that we had the quality to do better in this competition, but the Europa League is a good tournament and we want to be there."
Schalke were 2-0 winners against FC Bayern München on Saturday, their third victory in five league games an indication that Felix Magath's team are beginning to find their feet and finally display the form which has propelled them to the section summit. "We'll come up against an excellent team, whose position in the Bundesliga doesn't show their quality," warned Peixoto. "They have a world-class attack with excellent players who are known worldwide, but with our qualities, and in front of our fans, we can win."
Peixoto has played four times in the group stage but has not been a regular in the Liga, featuring in eight of Benfica's 13 matches. "There were times that I played more and now I am playing less, but it's not me who decides," he added. "There's rotation in the team but the most important thing is to win and rediscover the winning habit that we are all used to."
Whereas Benfica are out, Schalke are through and will top the section provided they match Lyon's result. Doing so would be a boost to their chances of climbing away from trouble in the Bundesliga, according to Benedikt Höwedes. "A victory will be very important because we want to win the group and it will also be a boost for our domestic campaign," said the 22-year-old defender, who struck his first goal of the season during the weekend win. "We have potential, like we showed against Bayern. It's hard to say who the favourites are because both teams are strong."