BOSTON — The fact that Sporting CP and Celtic FC are facing off on a field that's a little bit shorter than regulation size doesn't matter. They're inside Fenway Park, and the experience is what counts, not the win or the loss.
Besides, neither squad expects the size of the field to determine the outcome whatsoever.
"It's a game," said Sporting football director Francisco Costa. "And if you have ambition, if you like the game, it doesn't matter if [the field] is big or small. You just want to play."
The players will hardly have to dig deep for inspiration during Wednesday's matchup at Fenway; though they may not understand baseball, they understand it means just as much to America as football does to European countries. Both teams are well aware of how much of an honor it is to play at Fenway Park.
"For Sporting," Costa said, "being invited to play in this fantastic stadium is a great honor."
Next time he comes to Boston, though, Costa promised he will make sure he's far more familiar with Red Sox lore.
When asked how much he knows about the Red Sox, Costa admitted, "Not a lot," before adding, "but I promise you I will study a little bit more."
Celtic commercial director Adrian Filby, however, made sure to familiarize himself with New England's most beloved sports team before he arrived in Boston, telling executive vice president Sam Kennedy prior to his arrival that he appreciated Jason Varitek in particular because "he's a real man."
Filby said he and manager Neil Lennon are more attuned than most to American sporting traditions.
"[Lennon] knows quite a bit about American sport," Filby said. "He follows basketball, baseball, and I've been telling him all about Fenway. This was the part of the trip I was looking forward to. These guys get it."
Rather than focus on winning, the focus of Football at Fenway has solely revolved around the mystique of playing at a baseball park. Both Sporting and Celtic have plenty of pride on the line, but this is only an exhibition game. Right now, it's about fine-tuning and enjoying the atmosphere more so than winning.
"At this stage of the season, it's about players getting prepped, getting ready for the games," Filby said.
Still, Filby didn't deny that the lingering momentum from a certain curse-busting team could bode well for Celtic in this ballpark.
"Luckily, the World Series trophies are sitting right there," he said, "so we're coming after the Curse of the Bambino's been broken."
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