Benfica host newly-promoted Chaves at the Estádio da Luz on Friday night. Their recently-appointed coach Ricardo Soares has continued the excellent work of his predecessor Jorge Simão, and the visitors now sit seventh in the Liga NOS, boasting the fourth best defensive record in the competition. Rui Vitória began his pre-match press conference by paying tribute to the northern outfit.
"Right now I want to highlight the good work that Chaves have been doing this season. They have had a very positive campaign. They changed influential players and switched coach, but maintained their productivity, which is not common, and is therefore worthy of note. (I want to) highlight the work that the club and the region has done. They belong in the Primeira Liga."
Chaves are a disciplined and hardworking side that prefer to play on the counter-attack. Benfica will need to be wary of this, as Vitória explained:
"Chaves have some very important details that we have to know how to control. They attack with great discretion; that is, when they go forward, they are dangerous. We are aware of what we have to do, knowing that this is a team - like all of the others - that will cause us problems."
"We have to be very solid when when we lose the ball in offensive situations."
"(But) all of this doesn't change anything in our stance, our way of being... we will play at home, against a good opponent, but we want to give continuity to what we have (already) done. Tomorrow we have another very important game, at home, and we want to win."
Jonas has been declared fit for Friday's game, but Ljubomir Fejsa has been ruled out with a sprained ankle. Andreas Samaris, Filipe Augusto and André Almeida are the main contenders to replace the Serbian international. A philosophical Vitória explained that shuffling his pack is nothing new to him this season.
"With the misfortune of the injuries, we are obliged to find new solutions, and since the beginning of the season we have been finding dynamics that favour the characteristics of the (available) players. The players have been fantastic. Now, playing who we are playing, taking into account the context and the opponent, (and) exploring the characteristics of each player, we know what we have to do."
Next Tuesday, representatives of Benfica will meet with the Portuguese Football Federation's Council of Arbitration, to air their grievances about the poor standard of refereeing in the top flight this season. So how does Vitória feel about the situation?
"We are very attentive and express ourselves when we have to do so! We want everyone to be as professional as possible. We want rigour and transparency in these issues. First of all, we are concerned with our own work... but we are very vigilant."