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-West Ham Press Conference

Pre-West Ham Press Conference

Below follow words by Olympiacos coach Diego Martinez and goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis.

One day before the Olympiacos v West Ham tie (26/10, 19:45) at G. Karaiskakis for MD3 of the UEFA Europa League group stage, our side’s coach Diego Martinez and, representing the players, our goalkeeper Alexandros Pascahalakis were in press conference duties.

Details of the press conference by Spanish coach Diego Martinez follow below:

Do you believe the team is ready for the match and have made up your mind on the starting lineup?
Indeed, as you very well know, our team is one that continuously evolves and improves. Tomorrow we are to play against the best opponent so far and the most difficult to beat; we have a challenging match ahead. We have confidence and belief in ourselves and we believe we are properly prepared. We have one more training session until we take final decisions and we are certainly ready for everything.

Who will replace Ntoi? You said Olympiacos is to play against the best opponent so far; so, are you concerned by the defensive issues your side is facing and how will you deal with them?
We are surely concerned by our mistakes, but also the right things we do on the pitch. We use our correct moves as examples to improve ourselves and we try to fix our mistakes. All teams and players make mistakes. We saw the Champions League fixtures yesterday, where players with a price of 90 and 100 mil. euros, made mistakes. We are working on them. In our 14 official matches played so far, we play with a character that is constantly improving. Let’s not forget that we are a young team with young players. We also have experienced players, but the youngsters are trying to build their own identity. We have to put on a perfect display if we want to win. We keep our good moments to give us confidence, we believe in ourselves and we will do our best. I don’t want to talk about names because we have 24 hours to play and anything can happen, but you all know we have two options in center defense

There will be several changes in West Ham’s lineup; is this going to make your job easier or harder in order to get a positive result?
This match is quite special since we are playing against the Conference League winner. They have a side that always makes changes depending on the competition. What we have to do is to play smart because we know are up against a tough team. As Alexandros said, from summertime until now, we have conquered something important and this is to have a squad that plays confidently, that plays to win all matches and gives it all. We want to connect with our fans again as we have done so far, with the team and the fans being together as one. These fixtures are so special to us as well. We are all so zestful when in our stadium, both the fans and the team, and this is how we want to deal with this match.

In both group matches played by Olympiacos, the team conceded goals and failed to keep the result. Does that bother you?
I sure know everyone likes winning matches by 4-1, 3-1, 4-2. That would be nice but it is difficult both in the domestic league and in Europe. I agree with your colleague that we make mistakes and we have to improve. I am not talking about individual mistakes but the ones committed by the entire team. We are a team that has learned a lot. We have to learn to keep a result, to react when not scoring before the break, to withstand when playing one-man down, to be a team that always wins even against tough opponents. Definitely, there will also be matches in which, as statistics suggest, there will be a player to win it or turn it around. This is a superficial analysis, I think. The most important thing is for the side to learn how to manage things and correct their mistakes, to accumulate experience and become stronger. It would be ideal in a match to concede no goals and score some. All of us, we should together give it all and take all the things our team may give us in order to earn a positive result. When I say it is a superficial analysis, I do not mean results but our own analysis. Coaches, as Alexandros may confirm, are quite demanding in training; we are always on top of them asking things non-stop to improve. This is so because we believe in their development. I agree that mistakes have been made and they have to be reduced, but we strongly believe in this development process we are in. I apologize for my lengthy reply but tomorrow are to play against a team that features more than 5 players who are more than 1,90-m tall in their lineup. We have different characteristics and our own strengths to analyze. If we don’t have Porozo or Iborra in, things will be different. However, we have Paschalakis and Tzolakis (laughter)

How easy was it to turn the switch after the derby that never finished? What was your experience of it?
Truth is that many things might happen around us but we have to stay focused on our target. What is our target? The West Ham tie. So, we leave the Panathinaikos match behind which never finished; I don’t have many things to say and, surely, it wasn’t a pleasant one.

The team was found trailing back in four out of five high-level fixtures played with the exception of the Genk one. To what extent does trailing back affect the team? What is your explanation and how can this be avoided?
In a single year, many scenarios may unfold since every season includes many fixtures. As said in the past, we have to see the forest, not the trees. Certainly, we do not want to concede goals and we want to score. This is why we have an offensive-minded team that creates goal-scoring opportunities. An ideal scenario would be for us not to concede goals however, the most important thing is to be able to manage results. It is better if one focuses on winning because sometimes, we concentrate on the aim of conceding no goals and we end up failing to earn the result we want. Once, we played against Napoli, we have won the first leg by 1-0 and all players used to tell me that we must not concede a single goal; I told them “No, the most important thing is to qualify”. We conceded goal(s), yet we qualified. Of course, we should not suffer goals and improve our defensive performance, but the most important thing is to withstand and handle all matches under all scenarios and play to win.

Words by Olympiacos goalkeeper, Alexandros Paschalakis:

You are currently the best performing Greek goalkeeper. Is this something mentally helpful when entering the pitch to give this little extra bit?
It has to do with confidence. Any player who is capped must have this self-confidence. My help to the team is driven by many factors and my teammates contributed to that. It has to do with the group of guys and the company we have built; in the last period from the preseason training onwards, in particular, we have a very good atmosphere. We have a group of players with a fighting spirit, who are ready to give this extra bit for their teammates, coach, the club and its story, along with setting high targets. From my side, I feel well on the pitch and when playing next to these guys. I feel I am not alone and that I have teammates who will be there for me if I need them, but they also know that I will be there if they need me. When there is a homogenous group of players, then they work together to meet their target. this is a small target we have set early in the summertime but it doesn’t have to do with individual work, but with the team’s work.

To what extent do such matches fire up a footballer, even an experienced one like yourself?
It is my personal understanding that our preparation becomes easier when the opponent is of high level and demands are high. Therefore, our mind gets swiftly in tune with the match requirements. This is when proper management should be performed, especially towards young players; one should manage their emotions and enjoy such matches. This is why one should step on the pitch with respect, humbleness and ready to do the best they can. This is what I have always done and will keep on doing. But this has to do with the entire team, we all have to stay focused. For my part, I try to share all my experience. This is an important match, we need these points and, regardless how big the name of the opponent is, we have to what we know best.

How easy was it to turn the switch after the derby that never finished? What was your experience of it?
I will stick to something that Del Bosque used to say. Everything happens for a good reason. We focus on our next target. we believe more and more in ourselves and we use difficulties to our advantage. What we apparently want is to play football and win.

The team was found trailing back in four out of five high-level fixtures played with the exception of the Genk one. To what extent does trailing back affect the team? What is your explanation and how can this be avoided?
This is no large number of matches and no comparison may be made. I may analyze all matches: we took the lead against Genk and won, we suffered a goal by Freiburg in 45’ in a match we put on our best display and our side showed its ability to be a match with such high-level ties. No matter how ugly a match may turn, we will be here to fight. Our team shall never give up, we will be there. This is something instilled by the coach, and all players have this kind of mindset. I am happy to see one helping the other and we can reach great heights. We still do not know what our level, which I consider it to be high. We stay humble and low-key and we are working hard to attain our goals. This is going to be a demanding match and nobody knows what will happen; what is for sure is that our side never quits.

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