Same opponents, same stadium, different competition. On Tuesday night, Benfica return to the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques to face Vitória de Guimarães for the second time in the space of four days. This time, the prize at stake is a place in the semi-finals of the Taça CTT. The northerners need a win to progress, while a draw would suffice for Benfica.
In his pre-match press conference, Rui Vitória was asked how he felt about playing the same opponent twice in such a short period of time.
"The difficulties will be similar to the previous challenge, (although) now it will be a different game. I always believe that even if you have the same teams in the same place, it can just take the fact that it's different day, or that there are different players, for things to change. In this sense, I expect a difficult game, against a team that will naturally fight a lot because they also have aspirations in this competition."
"(It's a) very demanding game for us, but just like in any competition, we will go to Guimarães to win. This is our objective, obviously, (whilst) really respecting the value of the Vitória team... value that we saw very recently. We want to win, to resolve this group phase and to reach the final four."
The Eagles named a heavily rotated squad for the game against Vizela on Matchday 2 of this season's League Cup, but nobody has been rested for the third and final game of the group stage. Vitória explained that while he may alter his starting lineup in Guimarães, he will not rotate for rotation's sake.
"Rotation is something that comes as an accessory. The fundamental objective is to win, no matter what the competition is. To say that my players are not ready for the competition or that some are second choice... that does not exist here! All the players are important. There are those that are awaiting an opportunity, yes. The principal objective is always that our team wins, adds three points and passes this phase, and then, yes, if there is the possibility, we can address one or or two other objectives."
"Tomorrow the best (players) will start. I predict that there will be one or two changes, but the best (players) will start given the competitive context, with just a few days in between the games, and taking into account the opponent in front of us. This is always the equation that is put on the table when we have to decide (the team), and it is never exclusively the fact that the player has to be rotated... no way!"
Benfica are still fighting on four fronts this season: in the Taça de Portugal, Taça da Liga, Primeira Liga and the UEFA Champions League. Their unbridled success means that they will have to play several more fixtures than their title rivals, so how does Rui Vitória intend to approach this challenge?
"Without any drama and with satisfaction! Honestly, it really is like this. Whoever lives this life, what they want most is to compete and to play."
"And if we ask all of the players, they prefer to play more and train less than the other way around!"
"It is a great challenge for all of us... both for the players that always have to be switched on for what is high-level competition, and for the whole support structure behind them."
"There are games every three days, but we are prepared and we are looking forward to what's coming. As long as we have the minimum recovery period that the players need, we are satisfied. Then it's just a case of facing each game with an enormous will to win."