Tasked with taming Shakhtar in the quarter-finals, Braga centre-backs André Pinto and Willy Boly tell UEFA.com how the Arsenalistas are taking on the best, and winning.
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Centre-backs André Pinto and Willy Boly have the task of reining in Shakhtar Donetsk as Braga look to follow up the elimination of Fenerbahçe with another huge UEFA Europa League scalp. The 26-year-old Portuguese and his 25-year-old French foil spoke to UEFA.com about the challenge ahead.
On Braga's achievement in getting this far
André Pinto: It's not every year that the club can make it to the quarter-finals, so for us as a squad, it's a great thrill. The key is our unity. We're a united group and that has been demonstrated by everything we've achieved.
Willy Boly: Braga reached the Europa League final in 2011, and playing for a club like this, we always have to try to go as far as possible. It's the first time I have got this far in Europe. We're doing our absolute best, every player. I didn't know Braga were going to reach a quarter-final [when I graduated from the B team last summer], but I came here to play in the Europa League.
André Pinto: We know Shakhtar are an excellent team. They are aggressive going forward but their defence is good too, and they're used to these European competitions. We will stick to our principles and hope to gain an advantage in the home leg to enable us to qualify in Ukraine.
Boly: At this stage in the Europa League, every team has quality. We know Shakhtar are a good team, the same as Dortmund and Liverpool, and we know it will be difficult.
On their defensive partnership
André Pinto: Willy's an excellent player – it's easy to play alongside him. We understand each other and luckily things have gone well.
Boly: The strength of our team is the collective. Any player can play with any other player. André gives a lot to our team and I think he has great tactical understanding too.
On being this season's surprise package
André Pinto: The first objective was to get through the group stage, and now we are in the quarter-finals we'll summon up all our strength to get through this round. Anything is possible. We've shown we have the class to take on the best.
Boly: Has beating Fenerbahçe in the round of 16 given us more confidence? No, not at all. We know that every match we win is down to planning. It is not about confidence. In football, there's a nice story every year. The story of Braga getting to the final in 2011 was brilliant, and now we're writing another – but I don't know if it will be the same or not. We will only know that after the final.