Do you have any team news?
Mauricio: “It’s the same as last week, Toby and are Harry still out.”
Do you know when on Harry?
“It’s the same as before, it’s difficult to know. We’ll see. Maybe he’s available if not for Wednesday, then Sunday. If not, we have to wait two weeks.”
So perhaps...you haven’t ruled him out for the Champions League game or the derby?
“Maybe, not sure. If not we wait two weeks until after the international break.”
“The same as Harry, and we’ll see.”
Did it surprise you that Harry was not on the Ballon D’or shortlist?
“It’s always tough to be on that list. Hugo Lloris is on the list and I’m very happy for him. Harry is still very young and be sure in the future he will have a chance to be on that list.”
The corresponding fixture last season was a potentially-decisive defeat, what have you learned about that game and other matches like that going into next season?
“In football, there are many topics but be sure it will be a different game, it’s a different season and a different situation for both teams. It’s difficult to learn from a game in a different period. The most important thing is that we need to learn about our experience to try to be better in every competition and in every game we play. I cannot tell you what we’re learning about a game a few months ago.”
Is it unrealistic now to think of Leicester as challenging for the title?
“No, it’s not unrealistic. They have signed good players and as a team it’s normal that it’s difficult to keep the level they showed last season. Today they are involved in one competition more, the Champions League and that is difficult because you spend a lot of energy in that competition and to share with the Premier League is very tough. It’s their first experience of the Champions League and it demands different things. They are still a very good team and it will be a tough game on Saturday.”
Are there any differences from the Leicester of last season?
“They keep a similar style. They play 1-4-4-2 and they can change some things if they play with different names but they keep the same structure and principle of the team. It’s a team that likes to play on the counter-attack, they are strong, they play deep with good organisation. It’s always a tough team to play."
It’s tight at the top - do you expect it to stay like that or will it come down to two or three teams?
“At the moment, so far, I expect that. It’s a very competitive season, a lot of teams fighting to be at the top of the table and this season will be tough and competitive. Maybe we will have to wait until the last game to see which team lifts the trophy at the end. That is good for us, the Premier League and for football.”
You think it might go down to the wire?
“I want to be involved if that happens!”
Did you expect more from Vincent Janssen?
“No, I’m very happy with him. When we signed him we knew it would be tough for him to adapt his game to the Premier League and the team and he’s still very young. If you compare with different players arriving to the Premier League or in different leagues it’s always tough to adapt. He’s settled well and he works very hard. It’s about time. He will score.”
Did you have a plan to ease Vincent in and did that plan change when Harry got injured?
“The expectation was always to share with another striker and that’s Harry Kane. It’s true, the pressure today because of Harry’s injury is massive, but he’s calm and we are calm. We don’t add more pressure because he’s doing well and we’re happy. To score, okay, from open play it’s been difficult but he’s scored two penalties and that’s good to build his confidence.”
Eric Dier is taking Toby Alderweireld’s place due to injury, if everyone is fit…
“Nobody owns a place on the team. Now he’s playing in a position, centre-back. It’s not Toby’s place.”
Sure, but if everyone is fully fit, can you accommodate both Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama?
“One is to be fit, another is to perform well, another is to be in a good shape to play. Football is about the present and today that is Dier. He’s playing well, I’m happy with him and it’s tough for Toby to take the place again. Football is about opportunity and taking opportunities.”
Do Harry and Toby have to keep calm and not get frustrated as they want to play and get back quickly?
“They are not frustrated, and that’s a word we don’t like to use. They feel well. They are working very hard and they suffer a lot. Do you know why they want to be available quickly? Because we kill them when they are injured! It’s a tough session every day and they suffer every day. It’s bad luck in the way we got the injuries but sometimes you cannot accelerate the process in your body because it’s impossible. They will work hard and when the doctor says ‘they are available’ and they don’t suffer, they can start to play if I decide they will be on the pitch. They are positive, not frustrated. It’s true they want to play as soon as possible, but sometimes it’s not possible.”