Wolves vs Braga - Ruben Neves dismisses claims that Europa League is damaging Wolves' form

Posted Thursday, September 19, 2019 by PA

Wolves vs Braga - Ruben Neves dismisses claims that Europa League is damaging Wolves' form

Midfielder Ruben Neves has dismissed fears Wolves’ Europa League adventure has hurt their Premier League hopes.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side host Braga in their opening Group K fixture at Molineux on Thursday still winless in the top flight.

They are 19th, having lost 5-2 at home to Chelsea on Saturday, with doubts over whether the squad can cope with domestic and European games.

But Neves has come out fighting and insisted, after six qualifying games which started in July, the Europa League has no bearing on their domestic form.

The 22-year-old said: “Fatigue doesn’t have anything to do with it, we’re all top players and are used to it. The Europa League doesn’t have anything to do with our position in the Premier League.

“It’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League and it’s a historic moment for Wolves, we’re going to do our best.

“It hasn’t been an easy start to the season – we’ve had extra Europa League qualifying games and the Premier League is the best league in the world.

“You are always going to have these moments in the season and we need to return to winning ways as soon as possible.

“We have these games ahead of us and the most important thing is the game tomorrow.

“Our objective is to win the game. It’ll be difficult but we’re going game-by-game.”

Boss Nuno has no injury worries with Ryan Bennett available after he was left out of the squad against Chelsea.

Braga have also struggled in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, sitting a point above the relegation zone after one win in their opening five games.

Nuno added: “They are a very balanced, competitive, team and there are no favourites. Braga have some very good players. It’ll be a great game.

“We’re focused on our team, we hope to match them. I don’t know what they are going to do, they are organised and well managed.

“This is not a new experience, we’re in our third season. We’ve always had an idea of building a highly competitive team which would be a match for any opponent.”

Braga boss Ricardo Sa Pinto piled the pressure on Wolves.

Braga came fourth in Portugal’s top flight last season and beat Spartak Moscow in the Europa League play-off to reach the group stage but Sa Pinto has labelled Wolves as favourites.

“In the Europa League things are different, they are different coming to Wolves,” said the former Portugal international.

“If you take into account the quality of their squad and budget, they have a greater responsibility and there’s greater pressure on them to win the game.

“We will fight to get the best result but the pressure for victory is on Wolves. We don’t feel pressure, we feel a responsibility to represent the club and the greatness of the club. I want the team to enjoy themselves but also take the opportunity.

“We want to win points, three points would be great, one would be good as well. I have a strategy for the game.”

Braga are third bottom of the Primeira Liga after one win in their opening five games but Sa Pinto insisted the teams start with a clean slate in Europe after both sides came through qualifying unbeaten to be drawn in a group with Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

“It’s not about position, it’s about having a good game. Wolves are in a similar position to us but it’s just the start,” he said.

“Both teams are in the Europa League and we are both going into the game unbeaten in qualifying.

“Wolves are a team with a very high level and have players with a lot of experience.

“We have to take into account the atmosphere, the fans will be on top pressuring the referee. We know Wolves will impose themselves.

“Nuno (Espirito Santo) has done an excellent job. We have the information on them, they have information on us, there are no more surprises in football.”

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