Stephen Baxter’s squad play host to Premier League giants Wolves tonight in the home leg of two leg tie in the Europa League qualifying round.
Part time Irish League side Crusaders put on a magnificent defensive display against Wolves last week in Birmingham and limited the score line to just 2-0. Crusaders held Wolves to a one goal lead until the dying seconds of the game, when a momentary lapse in concentration from Crusaders keeper Sean O’Neill saw Vinagre score from a Joao Moutinho cross.
Wolves Boss Nuno Espirito Santo has afforded great respect to the Belfast side after the game last week saying “Crusaders fought for every ball to prevent goals,” he told Premier Sports. “It will be tough [(n the second leg). We will have to be focused in Belfast.”
Again reiterating that there is no complacency ahead of tonight’s fixture he told the media this week, “We play the game. The game is 0-0 so our interpretation is exactly the same. For us it is not about the draw it is about competing, we have to perform and play good.
“The job is not done. This is one part of the game we have to control but we have an experienced team. It’s a brand new game, let’s play it.
“We can’t consider playing this game feeling that we have a leading score – we must treat it like a new game and respect Crusaders. It doesn’t matter the lead or how many goals advantage we have – just play the game as if it is 0-0.”
One small advantage Crusaders have tonight is their experience on their 4g pitch which the visitors have little experience on, boss Nuno said ““We’ll see how the players are in training. We don’t have a lot of experience of this. But they assure me with water it’s almost like natural grass. Let’s see training and we’ll assess tomorrow.”
Crusaders can use all the help they can get but they are still in a good place after their fantastic display last week. Crues boss Baxter told the media “It’s making sure their confidence levels are high, mentally. They stood up to the test last week and they have to do it again,” he said.
“If you’ve done it once there’s no reason why you can’t do it again. You’re playing against world stars, not a team you feel like you’ve got a chance of beating.
“They are leagues above us. They have the ability to slaughter you. We have to make sure we stay in the game, even though it is our home tie.
“It’ll be a different type of atmosphere, a Crusaders home atmosphere, it’ll be something different. I hope we can bring something which will ask them a few questions.”
We wish Crusaders the very best of luck tonight!
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