In an interview with Spanish media outlet Marca, Shakhtar Donetsk head coach Igor Jovicevic spoke about his team’s performance at the Bernabeu last week, what changes this week with Luka Modric’s return, his team’s chances, the disadvantage of not being able to play un Ukraine, and more.
On the loss at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
“It what was not enough against the best team in the world but would be enough against many others. We did a lot of things right, being true to ourselves. Our goal came after 10 touches without Madrid touching the ball. That is not easy at all! They need little to kill you. They can let you play, not like others, but their quality kills you in transitions. They don’t mind not being flashy, because they know they’re deadly.
“It’s not easy for anyone to play at the Bernabéu, least of all for a team as young as ours. For me it was only the third game in the Champions League. We were more heart than experience. In the first half hour we noticed the pressure, the noise of the stadium, the nerves. We suffer, of course. And when we saw that the game did not go to that 7-1 that Kroos said, well, you think about the 2-2, which Mudryk had in a very clear chance.”
On playing their home games in Warsaw
“We do not play at home. That’s how it is. It’s not the same. It is a handicap. What we experienced in Leipzig or the Bernabéu we do not have: that heat, that breath of the whole stadium, the push when you doubt. There will be Ukrainians, people who have unfortunately had to leave their homes because of a brutal war. It is not our stadium. But it is clear that it is not the same as playing at the Bernabéu. Madrid is not going to change.
What changes with Luka Modric’s return?
“Everything! He and Kroos run the games. It is impossible to put pressure on Luka. He resists everything because he has driving, dribbling, short and long passing, first touch... And he is more mobile every year. He’s unique. In the last four years he has played the best football of his life. He looks like he dances. Let’s see if Ancelotti rotates, but it won’t matter, it will be Madrid and they will always be the favorite.
“It is very sad (that Modric also grew up in a war). Now I should expect tactical questions, but I know that can’t be. I had to leave the country because of the war, leaving behind my great dream, which was to play for Dinamo Zagreb, like my father. A drastic decision had to be made. Mine was a good choice, because I went to Madrid, to the best club in the world. They shaped me and polished me as a person. They gave me values that I maintain today: respect, commitment, solidarity, never giving up when things are wrong. That is Real Madrid, fighting, fighting and fighting against anything. They are the values of people like Juanito, Raúl... with whom Real Madrid identifies.
“Modric suffered a lot, and it shows in the character he has now. He overcomes everything. Every Croat is proud of him, as a person and as a footballer.
What would it mean for Shakhtar fans if they beat Real Madrid?
“In football anything can happen. They are better, they will beat us 9 out of 10 games, but... We have to have the best day... You never know. There are weaker teams that have beaten them. We want to believe that it is possible.”