O L Y M P I A C O S   1 9 2 5
O L Y M P I A C O S   1 9 2 5
The press conference ahead of the match Olympiacos–Genk

The press conference ahead of the match Olympiacos–Genk

The team’s coach, Diego Martínez, and goalkeeper, Alexandros Paschalakis, talked about the first official match of Olympiacos.

On Thursday (10/08, 22:00), Olympiacos are having their first official match against Genk at “G. Karaiskakis,” for the 3rd qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Ahead of the match, the team’s coach, Diego Martínez, spoke at the press conference held at “G. Karaiskakis,” while Alexandros Paschalakis spoke on behalf of the players.

In detail, words by Diego Martínez during his press conference.

This is your first official game with Olympiacos – how prepared do you believe that the team is and what is the level you would like your team to be at?
Before talking about the match, I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victim who, unfortunately, is no longer with us; this is not what we call football, and violence has no place in discussions about football. Regarding the match, we are looking forward to the game because we are going to play our first official match in our stadium. We have high expectations, as well as ambitions. Globally, no team is 100% ready, but we are ready and prepared to present our best selves and get the best out of this match.

Do you believe that Genk will be more prepared, since they have participated in official games, while also coming from a painful elimination.
Our intention is to present our best selves both individually and as a team and do the best we can against the opponent. Certainly, the opponent also wants ideal conditions, it does not matter for either team what has happened in the past, but what will happen in tomorrow’s match.

You have extensive experience with matches in Spain and in Europe, but the premieres are always difficult – do you feel anxious about having a premiere in which there is a sense of obligation?
It’s something special since it’s new. It is the first official step and the first game in Karaiskakis. We want to turn this into something positive and take advantage of the fans’ positive energy and of the conditions, to take our first step in the best way possible. As Jorge Valdano has said, when there are demands, talent is necessary, and I believe that our team has enough talent to meet those demands. In recent weeks, the whole world has been telling me about the history of the stadium and this place. I want the whole team to show this appetite for “battle” and this mood on the field; to play with our soul, beyond talent, and to our heart’s content for the positive result.

Karaiskakis is a strong home and fans are always there. However, last year Olympiacos did not win in Europe at home and never held a zero in their defense. Is this extra motivation for the game, as it will be important to hold the zero in their stadium?
The qualification will be played in two matches – we want to move on to the next phase. We want to show passion in all games and treat them with optimism. As Alexandros already mentioned, we are Olympiacos and the goal is to always win. But we also have the knowledge to understand that we are facing a tough team, and this is an incentive to do our best against a really difficult opponent. We need to be strong and optimistic about the beginning of the season, but let’s not forget that a qualification is played in two games. There are teams that have won titles in Europe, and when looking at their course, we will notice that they were lucky and had also gone through difficult times. Each European round is a unique story. Next week, two teams are playing in the Super Cup in Karaiskakis, and if you consider how they got here, you will see that they experienced difficulties. Playing in Europe means playing at a good level, with a lot of struggles and you need to be prepared for everything.

What elements do you want to see in the game with Genk and which do you think will be the key in these two games?
I have not yet decided what the dosage of the… recipe should be. What I can guarantee is that we have analysed the opponent well and we know what we need to do to win. What is very important is to be strong and to show personality on the field, and to put into practice what we worked on throughout the preparatory period. To be flexible and disciplined when we must adapt to the needs of the match; and without any doubt, success is important in both areas.

Do you believe that you have a lead since you’ve seen Genk in an official match and know more about Genk than they do about you? Additionally, was it a surprise for you that they were disqualified by Servette?
In the world of football, we all have many tools to use in order to learn about our opponents. What matters is that the players give a successful performance on the day of the match. Everyone can view situations as an advantage or disadvantage – Genk is more ready and tight, while we are still at the beginning. All this does not matter; what matters are the facts and the mentality that we will bring out during the match. Nothing can be considered a surprise in a European competition, everything is expected, so we should not take into consideration the fact that Genk had been eliminated, but that they are a strong Belgian team. This competition is tough because all opponents are strong.

Tell us about Hwang’s readiness. Also, if you could make a comment about the Super Cup to be held in Karaiskakis – because Sevilla is playing, a team that your name has been attached to.
In-beom is available. However, not just in Hwang’s case, but for the whole team, let me tell you that many of our players are not yet ready to play throughout the entire game. But I want to say that we pay great attention to the starting eleven; however, the games are not won by just eleven players, but by everyone on the team, on the bench, at the stands – so we need everyone’s highest level. I am making it clear now, this will be my mindset throughout the entire year. I attach great importance to the management of the games and they are all important, whether they last 90 minutes, ten, or five. I really believe it’s important that Seville plays here. I was in this team for eight years, and I am attached to Sevilla – this is a big competition and an important event. But I won’t even be able to watch the final, I only have Olympiacos in mind and I’m happy here. From the first moment I came here and saw all this red around me, I have been determined to give my everything to Olympiacos.

The press conference of Alexandros Paschalakis

Last year, following the games with Qarabag, you established yourself and played one of your best matches with Freiburg. Should we expect something similar now?
Personally, I am not concerned about the individual appearance, but about the team as a whole. It is now the seventh week that we have been trying to build a body for the whole team to win and not for just one player.

Last year was a difficult season for Olympiacos. This year, as you mentioned, you are in the seventh week of preparation – can we expect something different? Has the situation changed?
The goal from the beginning of the preparatory period is to completely change the team and show a better face than last year. I have said before that the previous season was not successful – it is not possible for the team to finish in third place. A lot has changed, there is a plan and structure, and something good is being built. I believe that we will be better than last year; those of us who were here from the previous season, from the experiences we have gained, will be ready for the new year.

Olympiacos is a consistent team in Europe, this transforms the qualification matter into an obligation for you. Is there anxiety about it? What is the climate towards a good team and is it a surprise for you that they were disqualified by Servette?
This is our first official match. We’ve been working on our discipline all this time. It is the first step, there are 40–50 games throughout the season; it is the starting point for us to be able to start the year in a positive note. It is the team’s goal to enter Europe, the group stage, and of course we aim for victory in all games. I believe the road will be paved in this direction, with seriousness and discipline, as we have been doing all this time during our training sessions.

Karaiskakis is a strong home and fans are always there. But last year Olympiacos did not win in Europe in their stadium and never held the zero in their defense, is this an extra motivation for the game, because it will be important to hold the zero in their stadium?
We want to play in a crowded stadium and for our fans to be by our side. This is very important for the players and an extra boost. Whether you concede goals or not –all the teams on the planet concede goals–, the issue is the reaction and how the team will react. This is what is being built – the mentality is being built and I believe that we are at a good level, in unity, and disciplined at every moment.

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