After a spell at the FC Porto helm in 2013/14 followed by a return to Paços de Ferreira, Paulo Fonseca is ready to test his coaching mettle with Braga in Group F.
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UEFA.com: This is your first season here at Braga – how are you settling in?
Paulo Fonseca: It's amazing. I've come to a club that is terrific in all departments and provides us with excellent conditions to do our job. We also have a strong group of supporters, so I would say things are going very well.
UEFA.com: What are the expectations for Braga in the UEFA Europa League?
Fonseca: We have ambitions to get through the group stage. It will be very difficult because we are playing against some good teams that have the same target, but that is our goal.
UEFA.com: Marseille, Liberec and Groningen – what are the strengths and weaknesses of the teams in your group?
Fonseca: They are very different teams. Marseille are a very strong side, one of the best in France with some excellent players, and they have a coach in Míchel who knows all about playing in Europe. Then we have Slovan Liberec who are another very strong team – very attack-minded and intense, they look very capable to me. And then there's Groningen who also like to attack and score goals. From what I can see it's going to be a tough fight for us, but our intention is to make it to the next round.
UEFA.com: You started your career at Aves, then moved to Paços de Ferreira where you managed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League play-offs and then you joined Porto. That must have been a whirlwind few years ...
Fonseca: Perhaps, but things happen when they are meant to. Maybe I received some opportunities earlier than I expected, but things happened because of what I accomplished at Paços de Ferreira. That was the starting point for everything I have achieved.
UEFA.com: Porto provided you with your first experience in Europe, both in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. That must have been some experience ...
Fonseca: It was a good experience. Playing in Europe and reaching the UEFA Champions League are remarkable moments in any playing or coaching career.
UEFA.com: Do you wish you had enjoyed a little bit more time before graduating to the big leagues?
Fonseca: Like I said, things happen when they are meant to. I couldn't refuse the offer to coach Porto and I don't regret it in any way. As I also said, it was a year of learning and it will definitely be useful for the future. It was a year where I gained a lot of knowledge that will be very important in my career.
UEFA.com: How would you describe yourself as a coach? How do you like your teams to play?
Fonseca: I am an attacking coach. I like to build teams that have attacking midfields and have the ball most of the time. I like to control the game, basically.
UEFA.com: Which coaches have influenced you the most in your career?
Fonseca: I think all of them have influenced me, just some more than others. One who had a huge influence was Jorge Jesus, another is Norton de Matos, but I think I've learned from them all.
UEFA.com: You have been to Braga as a visiting coach and now in the home dugout. What's it like playing in such a unique environment?
Fonseca: This stadium is without doubt unique – and beautiful. There are certainly some stunning stadiums around the world, but I don't think you will find one like this with these surroundings. I really feel lucky to be able to work in this beautiful place every week.
UEFA.com: Last question – what would be, for you and your team, a successful season?
Fonseca: Firstly, to achieve a league finish that earns direct qualification for Europe. We want to shorten the gap that separates Braga from the bigger teams in Portugal, and we would definitely like to get through this group stage in the UEFA Europa League!