‘It’s not the time to speak of the Champions League’: Ruben Neves coy over Wolves’ European dreams ahead of second leg against Espanyol in the Europa League
- Ruben Neves is unwilling to get distracted from Europa League commitments
- The club know that winning the competition gets them in the Champions League
- Wolves are 4-0 up against Espanyol after the first leg but will not be complacent
Ruben Neves has dismissed talk of Wolves’ Champions League charge and called for calm ahead of their Europa League clash with Espanyol.
Wolves are 4-0 up from the first leg of their last-32 tie and face the LaLiga strugglers in Barcelona on Thursday.
Winning the Europa League would earn a Champions League spot, while fifth place in the Premier League could also earn a place at the top table of club football if Manchester City’s appeal against their European ban fails
Ruben Neves (left) insists Wolves are not looking ahead to Champions League qualification
The Wolves midfielder reiterated that their focus is on the last-32 second-leg against Espanyol
Wolves are eighth in the top flight, two points adrift of fifth, but Neves refused to consider challenging the elite.
‘We can’t talk about it at this moment. It’s a very good moment but we have our feet on the ground,’ he said.
‘We know what we’re capable of but we have to be focused on our competitions to keep our pace. It’s not fair to think about it at the moment. Our philosophy is always game-by-game. After we’ll look to the Premier League. It’s not the moment to speak about the Champions League.’
Neves scored a spectacular 25-yard volley in last week’s win at Molineux, adding to Diogo Jota’s hat-trick.
Wolves are expected to coast to the last-16 after they won the first-leg at Molienux 4-0
He is yet to score inside the box from open play with 12 of his 15 goals coming from outside the area and three from the penalty spot.
‘From the academy I’ve always liked to shoot from outside the box,’ he said. ‘A lot of times before it’s about my position so I don’t go inside the box too many times.
‘So every time I have a chance to shoot I’ll try. It’s a solution for the team, if I can help.
‘I always looked at (Andrea) Pirlo, in Portugal Hulk and Fredy Guarin can do amazing goals. It’s hard to see someone and try to do the same thing. I want to improve and I’ve improved alone because fortunately I have that quality in my football.’
Wing-back Jonny has not travelled with Wolves due to an ankle injury he suffered in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Norwich.
Boss Nuno Espirito Santo said: ‘He had a strong kick, he’s in pain, it’s normal procedures – treatment in the morning and afternoon – and hopefully he doesn’t stay out too long.’
Nuno Espirito Santo is refusing to rest his stars despite the size of the first-leg scoreline
The game is Wolves’ 45th of the season and, while they remain in the hunt for a possible Champions League place, Nuno gave credit to his players.
He added: ‘I will not say we don’t suffer, it’s tough and it’s very demanding on the players.
‘You see the schedule, you only have two days to play a tough game in the Premier League. The game is 0-0, this is how we face it. It’s a tough stadium to come to and we have to be very focused.’
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