Ricardo Pereira

Ricardo: Spartak’s Team Is Their Main Force

Ricardo Pereira underlined the way Spartak Moscow operate as a unit when asked about the individual talents the Russian side possesses ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League showdown.
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- Ricardo Pereira speaks to the media as Leicester City face Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Europa League
- The Foxes are in the Russian capital for their third Group C fixture
- The Portugal full-back spoke highly of Wednesday’s opponents and their manager
- Ricardo was coached by Rui Vitória at Vitória de Guimarães early on in his career

The Foxes are in the Russian capital to contest their third Group C fixture and are in pursuit of their first European win of the season having drawn with Napoli before being beaten by Legia Warsaw.

They come up against a Spartak outfit that earned an impressive 3-2 win over Napoli in Italy last month, and Ricardo understands their collective effort is the strongest weapon in their armoury.

Many Premier League stars have made the switch to Russian in recent decades, however it is Rui Vitória, Spartak’s manager, that Ricardo knows best from his time at Vitória de Guimarães.

“I know they have a Portuguese coach (Rui Vitória), it was my first coach when I first started,” Ricardo explained. “I remember a coach that likes to be close to his players.

“He wants to give confidence, especially young players like me when I was with him, and he likes to get you comfortable to show what you know and to do your best.

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“They didn’t start as well as they wanted in the Russian championship, but they have good players – they got to the play-offs in the Champions League against Benfica, too. They are in front of us, we want to win the first game in the group stage, and that’s what we’ll try to do.

“The main force is the team, I don’t think that we can stick with one player. We know that they have a good team, they know they had a great result against Napoli and we have to be careful with the team, not just one player.”

After many of City’s current squad contested Europa League football last term, Ricardo believes they will have gained valuable experience, and hopes they can improve on their European efforts in 2020/21.

He said: “It’s not our first season. A lot of players have played this competition for the first time last year. We want to do better than last season, and to do that, we need to win games, and I hope it starts tomorrow.

“After having two games with just a draw, it’s important that we don’t wait for the last game. We know it’s normally around 10 points to go to the other phase, so we need to start tomorrow. We cannot wait anymore. We need to play our game and do our best.

It’s a good thing for us to be able to change from one game to the other, sometimes to surprise the other team and sometimes to change some aspects in the game.

Ricardo Pereira

“In football, in life, we always have to want more. We have to do our best everyday to achieve more and we can’t be satisfied of what we did in the past, and be okay with that. I think we need to be ambitious and always want more.”

A switch in formation against Manchester United last time out prompted the question of whether City’s players are able to adapt swiftly if called upon, and Ricardo explained exactly why his team-mates are capable of doing so.

“We did that last season several times, even this season we’ve already played with three and with four [defenders],” he said.

“It’s a good thing for us to be able to change from one game to the other, sometimes to surprise the other team and sometimes to change some aspects in the game.

“I think the team is mature enough to do that, and to know that if we play with four or with five, what we need to do in the game.”

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