Wolves v Slovan Bratislava: Nuno keen to compete back on home turf
After finishing up a run of four away games on the bounce, Wolves chief Nuno Espirito Santo is relishing being back at Molineux.
The first match of the four, of course, was at Slovan Bratislava – and Nuno’s charges fought back from behind to claim a 2-1 victory, writes Joe Edwards.
The Slovakians, it must be said, put up quite the fight, and you suspect they will be no pushovers this time around too.
What will undoubtedly be different, though, is the atmosphere.
The cards were stacked against Wolves in the reverse fixture as Slovan, although under a Uefa behind-closed-doors sanction for racism from fans, had 20,000 under-14s at Tehelne pole.
And they jumped up and down and screamed at the top of their lungs for 90 minutes.
The whole thing was bizarre, but Wolves overcame the disadvantage for a top triumph.
So, can they shine in front of a home crowd eager for a victory that would give Nuno’s charges a great chance of getting out of Group K, and into the Europa League knockout stages?
“We want to play, want to perform,” said Nuno.
“We’re back in Molineux. It’s been a while not playing in front of our fans, so we want to perform well.
“We’ve missed them. We want them close to us!”
If Wolves win tonight, they will only need a point from the final two group games – at Braga, and against Besiktas at Molineux – to seal qualification through to the last 32, where eight third-placed teams from the Champions League also come in.
On whether he is keen to wrap it up sooner rather than later, Nuno, as you may have expected, did not give too much away.
“We want to compete, play, knowing Slovan are a very tough team,” he said.
“We have to be organised and compete well, that is what is most important.”
Andraz Sporar scored in the reverse fixture and Wolves will be wary of the threat he poses for Jan Kozak’s well-drilled side.
But Nuno added: “Like always, no matter what momentum we are in, we are confident.
“That’s because we prepare to compete.
“We cannot expect things to happen, we have to make them happen, and we’re ready.”
Diogo Jota is suspended after being sent off for two bookings in Bratislava, which could give compatriot Pedro Neto an opportunity from the off.
Adama Traore, who is likely to start on the right of the front three, said: “I can’t say how far we’ll go but what I can tell you is we will fight every game to win."
“We are aware of these three points but the important thing is to stay focused.
“We don’t come out on to the pitch thinking ‘win these three points and maybe we’re in the next round’. It’s new for us, playing two games in the week, but the mentality is great.”