After finishing third in our Champions League group, we take our place in the Europa League and face Belgian side KAA Gent in the Round of 32 first leg at the Ghelamco Arena on Thursday night.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday night, Hugo was asked if there were any regrets looking back at our Champions League campaign.
“No, we need to turn the page, we need to see this disappointment as experience and we’ll fight until the end of the season to get back into the Champions League next season,” said the skipper.
“It’s tight in the league but we’re in a good position and there is still an opportunity in the Europa League for the winner.
“The next step for this generation, this team, is to live a great experience from a competition like the Premier League, Europa League or the FA Cup and try to compete for the trophy. That’s our ambition and we need to show that every time we’re on the pitch and we wear this jersey.”
Here’s what Hugo had to say at the press conference...
What is your approach to the Europa League?
Hugo: “In your mind it has to be like the Champions League, it’s still a good competition to win and we’re all ambitious and want to go as far as possible and for that, we need to focus on ourselves, switch on our minds and be ready to fight. Football is about basics, if you see our game against Liverpool, it’s not about tactics or technique, it was more about spirit and in cups, spirit is key. We’re aware of the situation and we need to play at 100 per cent because the opponents will be ready to fight and compete against us.”
Looking at how tight it is in the Premier League, does that add extra emphasis on the Europa League because of the route back into the Champions League?
Hugo: “It’s two completely different things. It’s important to take each competition with the same mentality and the same spirit but we need to split the three competitions, they are three different trophies and as I said, it’s still an opportunity to get a trophy. We need to work hard all together and show our ambition on the pitch every time we get the opportunity to compete.”
Have the players spoken since Saturday (Liverpool) and if so, what was said?
Hugo: “I don’t like to talk about what’s happening in the changing room or at the training ground, we were all responsible for that defeat and we were all disappointed in the way we played, the most important thing is to show a good response all together and this is a good opportunity to do it.”
If you could choose between winning the Europa League and the FA Cup, which would you choose and why?
Hugo: “I’m a competitor and every time I’m involved in a competition, I want to win that competition. That’s not just from today, but from a long time ago when I started to play football when I was a kid, every time I’m on the pitch it’s to compete and try to win the game, so there is no difference between the competitions.”
Have you had any feedback on KAA Gent from the Belgian players?
Hugo: “It’s always a special game when you play against a team from your country so it will be special for them and it’s important as a team to win this game. There are two legs but it’s always better when you get an advantage from the first leg. We expect a tough game and if they can advise us a bit about the players they will do it.”