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Europa League MD-1 Press Conference | Chris Shields

Europa League
// 21 Oct 2020

Ahead of our UEFA Europa League Group B opener against Molde on Thursday night, Lilywhites skipper Chris Shields faced questions from the media at an online press conference in Tallaght. You can read a transcript of the 29-year-old’s interview below.

Chris, how could you compare this campaign to 2016? The difference in circumstances is extraordinary.
Chris Shields: Yeah, given the year we’ve had we may not have thought we’d be in this position, given the domestic upheaval after the lockdown, but we’re happy to be here again. We’ve come in as champions and there’s a good group of lads who were here in 2016 which can only be a help. 

You’ve had some great nights in Tallaght but equally some good nights at the Aviva Stadium. Would you have preferred to have played this game there?
CS: Personally, yes because I’ve been unfortunate enough to miss the last two visits there! It would have been a good thing for me personally but Tallaght is a great facility. We know the pitch well and we know the surroundings well. We’ve had some memorable nights here in Europe and we’ll be holding to add to that tomorrow night.

Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli talks to his players during the training session at Tallaght Stadium on MD-1. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

The group in 2016 was very tough but Dundalk still picked up four points in it. Looking at this group on paper, do you think it will be easier or harder to do the same?
I think the group is very similar to the one we had in 2016. That year we drew Zenit who were the highest-ranked team in the competition and this year we have Arsenal who are the same. You look at Rapid Vienna and Molde, they’re similar to the Maccabi Tel-Aviv and AZ Alkmaar. We just have to take each game as it comes. These teams will probably have more European experience than us but you can’t go into these matches expecting to get nothing, or you’ll get nothing. You have to go in hoping to win points and that’s what we’ll be hoping to do.

The pitch at the Aviva seems to be a bit bigger and expansive. Do you think Tallaght might suit the way Dundalk want to play these games?
I take it you haven’t taken a run around it! It’s still big from corner flag to corner flag! The Aviva looks huge because of the surroundings and the stadium but Tallaght is big and the bigger pitch definitely suits us for our style of play. The playoff against KI at the Aviva was the first time a lot of players were in that sort of situation before and there might have been some nerves about but that’s a good thing to have under the belt.

Molde score a lot of goals from midfield. Is that something you’ve looked at and spoken about?
We did our video session on them and we honed in on their strengths. Obviously, their midfield goals are a strength. They pretty much score from everywhere in the squad, I believe their full-backs even have goals. Me, personally, I’ll be coming one-on-one against their creative midfielder, and it will be my job to stop them scoring goals. As of late, we’ve seen it in ourselves – Sean Murray especially, he likes this competition, he’s started to add more goals to his games and even Greg Sloggett and Patrick McEleney, it’s very easy for them to pop up with a goal as well.