Benfica make the short trip to the Estádio António Coimbra da Mota on Tuesday night for the first leg of their Portuguese cup semi-final with Estoril. The Canaries’ Spanish coach Pedro Gómez Carmona was appointed in December, and has now been at the helm for 12 matches. His first eight games yielded six defeats, but Rui Vitória has seen signs of improvement in recent weeks.
"It is clear that with time, teams and their coaches will improve and ideas will be assimilated. Today, I'm certain that their ideas are better defined, and we will meet an even stronger Estoril (side), that have been improving and will fight in a determined manner to book their place at the [Estádio do] Jamor... just like us! Of course we will have a difficult game, which will require a lot from us on a physical and tactical level."
Benfica have a busy schedule ahead: they face Feirense in the Liga NOS on Saturday, before travelling to Germany for their Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund next Wednesday. With this in mind, is Vitória tempted to rest some of his key men against Estoril?
"I have a vast array of players and all of them have quality... it is a matter of choice."
"To be clear, any alteration that arises always has to do with the getting the maximum performance from the team, taking into account the context of the game itself."
The 46-year old has lifted the Primeira Liga trophy, the Taça da Liga and the Supertaça in the past year, leaving the Taça de Portugal as the only domestic honour to have eluded him at Benfica, although he did win it in 2013 with Vitória de Guimarães. Nonetheless, Vitória insisted that his team’s successes will always come ahead of any personal milestones.
"The fundamental objective - although it is still distant - is for Benfica to win another Portuguese cup. It is with this objective that we enter all of the competitions. But now we are focused on the semi-finals. Then, in the case of victory, each one of us will take away our personal dividends. (But) I'm not here to win individual honours."
The second leg of the semi-final will take place at the Estádio da Luz in early April, but the Eagles are aiming to take control of the tie at the first attempt:
"The semi-final will be two hard games. Which is the best result for (Tuesday)? We will go to Estoril to win!"