Interview

Semedo’s homecoming

Barcelona right-back Nélson Semedo learned his football on the streets of the Portuguese capital. Now the former Benfica player returns to Lisbon with the aim of lifting the Champions League trophy in the stadium he used to call home. First, though, is the daunting prospect of a quarter-final against Bayern München.

You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Interview

Semedo’s homecoming

Barcelona right-back Nélson Semedo learned his football on the streets of the Portuguese capital. Now the former Benfica player returns to Lisbon with the aim of lifting the Champions League trophy in the stadium he used to call home. First, though, is the daunting prospect of a quarter-final against Bayern München.

You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Read the full story
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You’re returning to the city in which you were born. Does playing Bayern in Lisbon mean a lot personally?

Coming back to play in Lisbon is always a good and special thing. On top of that, we’ll be playing in Estádio da Luz, a stadium where I was very happy in the last team in which I played, Benfica. Playing again in the Estádio da Luz feels very comfortable for me.

How did growing up in Lisbon help shape you as a person, away from football? Did it have an impact on who you are today?

Of course. I started playing football in the streets of Lisbon. I used to play against other neighbourhoods and people who were older than me. I was gradually getting more experience and improving my technique. I became stronger and that helped me a lot. Thanks to God I got as far as playing for the national team as well, but it was in Lisbon where everything started, and Lisbon was the place that opened the doors for me in terms of football.

Describe the stadium to us, because it’s a beautiful footballing temple.

Yes, the stadium is just beautiful. It’s red, as it’s Benfica’s. We have our eagle, the eagle of victory, that lives in the Estádio da Luz. It is very beautiful, as people say. It has its own energy and history. It is a nice place to play football.

Describe to me the player that plays in front of you – Lionel Messi. What’s it like watching him when he does the extraordinary, such as his second-leg goal against Napoli?

When Leo gets hold of the ball, and I’m right behind him, I know that he’s capable of doing the impossible, and that’s what he did. He went past two players, he kept hold of the ball and managed to get a shot in and scored a great goal. I’m usually the spectator to what he does, as I’m usually playing behind him, and it’s spectacular to be in this position. For example, when he takes free-kicks, I’m normally positioned behind. So, I usually have a privileged point of view – I can see everything. And it’s incredible to witness what Leo does in every match, in every training session. He’s an incredible player.

Do you think that this goal against Napoli was the best Messi has scored while you’ve been at the club? Was it that good?

He’s scored so many great goals. The one that really stands for me is the one he scored against Liverpool [a free-kick in last season’s semi-finals], because I was right behind it and I could see the swerve he put on the ball. He was so far out from the Liverpool goal but Leo managed to score, and it was a great goal. 

Nélson Semedo in action for his home club Benfica

Talking about key moments against Napoli, let’s discuss your movement and anticipation in the Stadio San Paolo to create the goal for Antoine Griezmann. It was an excellent goal and you played a key role.

Yes, the goal we scored against Napoli was a wonderful goal. It was like a training session, we played a lot of short passes in the midfield, and we managed to create space behind their defence. I exploited that space and Busquets had the ball and played me in with an inch-perfect pass, where all I had to do is play the ball across to Griezmann, who finished it. It really was a wonderful goal.

You’re playing against Bayern. What are your thoughts about this crucial game?

Playing against Bayern will be a wonderful match, but we have our own attacking threats. We’ve seen videos of how they position themselves, how they play the ball out from the back, and we will be wary of that. But, above everything else, we will focus on ourselves and do what we do best with the ball, which is scoring goals. If we play well, we’ll have our chances to get through to the semi-finals.

People say Bayern are favourites to win the competition. One of the keys is being tight at the back, not giving them any chances. This is quite a different style of defending for Barcelona.

We’ll not always be able to have the ball, but we’ll not always want to defend. We’ll have to win the ball back as much as possible because, as you said, the best way to defend is to have the ball. We’re going to play our game, try to play with our style. When we have to defend, we can do so as a unit, because these games are difficult.

Do you see this round against Bayern as an opportunity, because there’s another chance to win a trophy in this really long season? Or is there more pressure because it’s the last chance to win a trophy?

Well, here in FC Barcelona we feel both things, because our team is used to winning. So we have that pressure, a good pressure, the pressure to win all trophies. This year, unfortunately, we couldn’t win the league but we have the opportunity to win the Champions League, and we see it as something that motivates us, because winning it is the goal of any professional player. We’re going to fight for it.

So, aside from the Camp Nou, there’s no better place in the world to knock out Bayern than at the Estádio da Luz, in your hometown. It’s a dream come true, right?

Yes, it’s great. We’re going to do everything possible to win in the Estádio da Luz. I would be very happy if that happened and, hopefully, we can play more games in the Estádio da Luz. If it’s possible for us to lift the trophy in the Estádio da Luz, it would be the icing on the cake.

You can get your copy of the 72-page Official 2020 Tournament Guide now on our sister site, european-nights.com. While you are there, why not pre-order your official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme? Both the guide and programme are available in print and/or digital.

Penalty Pedigree

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