Campeonato Gaúcho: Grêmio hope fans understand defeat to Internacional
Grêmio president Fabio Koff has pleaded for fans to understand the nature of the 2-1 defeat to city rivals Internacional on Sunday after the club pay the price for not qualifying directly into the Copa Libertadores.
It was a 0-0 draw against Internacional on the last day of last season’s Brasileirão which meant that Grêmio dropped to third place in the table and would have to playoff for a chance to enter the group stage of this season’s Copa Libertadores.
The tough draw against LDU of Quito, Ecuador, meant that Grêmio have had to prioritise the Copa Libertadores ahead of the Gaúcho championship which has resulted in losing three out of their four games so far, including the defeat in the GreNal classico on Sunday, and sitting second bottom of Group A on just three points.
“I ask that the fans understand us,” Koff told reporters after the game.
“We are prioritising the Libertadores. We had no pre-season, this is the truth. We had to prepare for two games (against LDU).
“Now we are preparing the team physically. That is our priority at the moment. We pay the price for not having entered the group stage of the Libertadores.
“I back the coaching staff's decision to use the reserves. Our priority is the Libertadores, we preserve these players (first team) for the most important competition.”
However, Grêmio have confirmed that the first team will return for Wednesday’s clash against São José, not as a reaction to the defeat to Inter, but because qualification for the Libertadores was secured last Wednesday with the penalty shootout win against LDU.
“The risk was calculated. Grêmio has a plan that aims to preserve competitiveness in the Libertadores,” added director of football Rui Costa.
“We will always work with that premise. The Gauchão is secondary for us. The Libertadores is our priority.”
Source: Globo Esporte