On being surprised by Vitoria’s quality:
HB – No, I wasn’t surprised at all because even though they lost the first two games in the group stage, we knew they were very tight games, and that [the opposition] had to score goals at the end or that they scored through set pieces. We knew they were a team with a lot of quality and very physical players, with quick and creative players at the top. We analysed the last few games they played, and knew it wouldn’t be easy. It was harder than some people expected, but we knew it and not every game will be easy. It was a hard game, and Pepe won it at the end with the free kick. Obviously we play away from home, they will have the home crowd, so we expect it to be harder but we are ready.
On why he took the captaincy away:
UE – I think it’s closed, that issue.
On the clarification on captains:
UE – We have now Aubameyang, Hector, Lacazette and Ozil – they are the four captains, and first is now Aubameyang.
On speaking with Xhaka about past issues:
HB – That was the situation with me, and as you can imagine it was really hard for me and it was the first time it happened to me and it was hard to deal with. I said to Granit that this is like in every walk of life, sometimes you are at the top, and the other time you are at a low. These are things you have to deal with. When these things happen to you, you have a whole squad to back you, and support you. That is what happened to me, all the players told me not to worry, to get my head down, train and do better, and people forget and forgive. It will be the same situation with him. I spoke to him when it happened and time heals.
On whether this is a temporary decision:
UE – I think we are speaking a lot about that and it’s clear, there’s not more words about that. The decision I have taken, and also I told him and I told the other captains and now we are continuing.Then the time is giving us the next matches, the next weeks and the next months, how we can continue with every player and with him also. But now our focus is on tomorrow, he is not here. We have other players and for me also it’s very important that I respect a lot the competition and Vitoria Guimaraes and also we have on Saturday another important match. Our focus is only those two matches and I want to say to you also my decision. I told them. First Xhaka and then the captains and it’s finished. For me, it’s finished, that moment and that issue and his future with us is coming for the next weeks or the next months and now we need to be focused for tomorrow.
Are you optimistic about the game today?