"They're prepared for the highest stage and the toughest test," said SL Benfica coach João Tralhão of his players ahead of the UEFA Youth League final against FC Barcelona.
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"I'll back my players 100%," was the confident prediction of SL Benfica coach João Tralhão as he looked ahead to Monday's UEFA Youth League final against FC Barcelona, whose trainer Jordi Vinyals wants to impose the "philosophy that has brought us to the final".
Tralhão told UEFA.com: "We've prepared the players for the whole season, so that they're prepared for the highest stage and the toughest test." The Portuguese outfit came through their semi-final against Barcelona's traditional rivals Real Madrid CF in stunning fashion, cruising to a 4-0 win. Tralhão, however, is all too aware of the challenge facing his charges in the showpiece and knows that Benfica need to adapt accordingly.
"We have to make sure that we are ready for the Barcelona game, which will be an extremely difficult game against such a strong team," he said. "They have great players in all areas of the pitch. They've even got great substitutes. They play with fantastic style, too. I'm expecting a very difficult opponent, and we'll need to be at our best to defeat them."
There will be no adaptating or alteration from Azulgrana coach Vinyals, who overcame FC Schalke 04 using the Barça methodology to "gradually wear down their defensive system".
"Above all, we have an idea at this club, an idea that has brought us to the final," said Vinyals. "All being well we will try to win, but always using our philosophy; we don't know how to do it any other way. I believe it's this philosophy which will bring us success and give the players the chance of winning it."
Not that success on Monday is the be-all and end-all for Vinyals, who feels that the experience of this competition has been invaluable both for his players and himself. "Winning excites you, it gives you confidence, it makes you feel better," he said, "but I think what we've learned, what we've all learned in this competition, I think it's magnificent. There's no other tournament at this level with which it can be compared."
Those sentiments were echoed by his counterpart and upcoming opponent Tralhão: "Before looking at trying to win the competition, we should consider the objective, which is to promote a good environment for the players at a stage which is very close to their professional careers. I think we've achieved this objective with great success.
"In terms of our aspirations for the competition, we want to provide the players with these experiences. There's one more great experience for them yet."
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