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
Pre-match press conference at Genk

Pre-match press conference at Genk

Diego Martinez and Panagiotis Retsos in press conference duties ahead of Olympiacos away match against Genk.

Olympiacos landed Wednesday in Belgium to play their return match against Genk, Thursday 17/08 (kick-off at 21.00) for the UEFA Europa League’s 3rd qualifying round.

Our head coach Diego Martinez and player Panagiotis Retsos hosted the pre-match presser of the red-and-white side.

First, the floor was given to Olympiacos defender Panagiotis Retsos:

Olympiacos have taken the lead following the first leg; are you ready to put on your best display and qualify?
It goes without saying; we become a better team fixture after fixture. We work hard in training every day to improve ourselves. We want to win tomorrow and we can do it given our display last week. It will be a beautiful encounter and a match like the ones Olympiacos want to play; and I believe we deserve to win!

What are things you want to keep out of the first match and the ones you want to change in turn?
Firstly, we need to keep control of the match and show our quality for the entire 90 minutes and I believe we can do it. This is our second encounter with the same opponent; so, we know their weaknesses and there I think we can “hurt” them. We have many quality footballers and we are here not only to keep a clean sheet -which is quite important on its own, but also to score goals. We didn’t come here to earn a draw but to win the match.

You seem to be a different player; what has changed in you during summertime?
I wouldn’t say that something has changed in terms of my training or the things I do. I am always the person I should be; I work hard every day as I have been doing throughout my years as a professional. Definitely, the trust by our coach matters and the entire team has changed things we used to do inside and outside the pitch. This has helped us all and was shown in our good performances in friendlies; moreover, we won our first official fixture against a fairly good team of young and quality players. Personally, I haven’t changed anything, but I feel better match after match and I feel confident with myself. What I want is to keep getting positive results and play more in Europe as we ought to.

On your first match performance, has Freire’s experience been helpful to you?
It goes without saying. When it comes to the central defender position, collaboration must be great or else the team will not deliver defensively. He is a top player, an experienced one and he made that evident in the previous match which also was his first in our home ground. I am happy to have also9 played in that match next to “Nico”; we work and communicate great together on the pitch and I believe we fulfilled our defensive duties in collaboration with the entire team. I believe that, regardless of the opponent, our side as a whole shall perform like we did in the first leg.

Diego Martinez: “We came here to qualify”

In details, words by Olympiacos coach Diego Martinez during his press conference:

In Greece, we have the following saying: “Never change a winning team”. Is there any chance of changes in tomorrow’s match?
I will get crazy if I start paying attention to everything that is said in Greece, the same applies to Spain, England and any other place in the world. Football is about passion and we all have an opinion of our own. This is why football attracts so much people because it’s always the talk of the town, it generates more passion and interest for everybody, and each and every one has an opinion of their own. However, we do have a specific plan, which is to build a competitive team that will be able to win tomorrow’s match and all fixtures to follow. Changes from match to match, as well during a single encounter, are necessary for a team to remain competitive. All players have to be ready to play when asked to because this is the secret for a club that is blessed to play matches every 3 days since this is evidence of a successful and good team. When one has to perform every 3 days, then one has to be ready to make changes and use the entire roster, and the players have to be able to collaborate between them. Panos said before that he works fine with Freire; we want Panos to work great also with Ntoi, Porozo and all players with one another. This is easier said than done, however this is our objective because during the season we will need all players and make many changes.

Is there any chance of you capping other players compared to the first leg?
We normally announce our starting lineup before we exit on the pitch because we still have one training session to go and a full 24-hours in between. My experience has shown that I should not disclose things or rush to take decisions. Moreover, I would like to emphasize this encounter’s level of difficulty since we are to play against a good and tough side in an atmosphere that will not be friendly to us. So, we will have to be focused and no matter who is called to play, he will have to be ready to perform. Let me say again that many times may turn out more important if he plays 10 minutes to another who might have played 80 minutes.

Do you expect your opponents to put on more pressure on you compared to the first match?
As I said in the previous match, who qualifies is to be determined in the second leg, not the first one. Therefore, this match is important for both sides and We will go on the pitch to win and this is fitting to the club’s DNA. Definitely, our players will have to remain very focused from the first minute, to make full display of the personality, team spirit and composure we had in the first match; we are to face a strong team with offensive qualities and we d now that they have very good wingers. So, we will have to be absolutely focused throughout the match and keep up with our good performance because, in the previous match, we kind of lost that. If this match’s scenario turns out different, then we will need to have total control of our emotions and handle all difficulties that may arise during the match. This is the kind of personality required tomorrow in order to bring our plan to fruition.

Is there any concern with regard to your team’s state of fitness compared to Genk’s, given they have played more official fixtures already?
This is important and it is also a fact; Genk is more up to it right now, but this is not a determining factor as we saw in the first match. We do have players who just joined us and we do not feature the same degree of readiness like Genk., however we are working on that day after day. Of course, a player’s degree of readiness changes and, as said, our changes will be driven by that fact. However, in football, tactics matter as well as a player’s state of fitness; but what matters the most is one’s personality and ability to harness one’s emotions, plus our concentrations and the talent of our team, both individually and collectively. We came here to play and win and our aspiration to qualify is really big.

Tonight, in Olympiacos’ home ground, a team, where you have also spent time in, is going to play against one of the world’s top coaches. Whom will you be cheering for?
I will be cheering for Olympiacos. Our entire focus is with Olympiacos. Our entire energy is here and our mind is set on our own objective; there is nothing else in our mind.

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