Jesus not taking Otelul lightly
Benfica will treat UEFA Champions League newcomers Otelul Galati just as seriously as they did Manchester United two weeks ago, manager Jorge Jesus and defender Ezequiel Garay have vowed. Jesus' Portuguese giants will become the first ever non-Romanian club to visit Bucharest's new National Arena tomorrow when Otelul host their Group C game there.
Jesus, whose side held United to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio da Luz in their opening match on the same night Otelul were losing at Basle, said: "It's not difficult to focus the players for this game. We have the same concentration that we had with Manchester United and give Otelul Galati much respect."
Argentinian defender Garay added: "All matches are tough, but we've prepared for this one as we usually do - with total commitment and without taking into consideration that our opponents are debutants or a team like Manchester United. Otelul want this as well, but our job is to play well and win. That's why we are here."
Otelul have made an indifferent start to their defence of the Romanian title and are widely regarded as the whipping boys of Group C. But the club hopes the decision to move their Champions League group games from their 13,500-seater home in Galati to the 55,600-capacity national arena will inspire their players to greatness.
Head coach Dorinel Munteanu said: "I don't know how many spectators will come but the most important thing for us is that they leave the stadium happy with how we played and with the result. I'm confident we've prepared well. Our competition debut against Basle has been and gone, so our emotions should not be so high. Benfica have so many good players who can decide a match, but we're ready and we'll try to seize our chance."
Munteanu has a history of upsetting Portuguese visitors, having helped knock Sporting Lisbon out of the UEFA Cup 20 years ago as well as playing in Romania's UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying win over Portugal. He added: "I have special feelings about this fixture because, in 1991, while playing for Dinamo Bucharest, we eliminated a more fancied team in Sporting Lisbon. I also scored for the national team when we beat Portugal 1-0."