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
Mendilibar: “The fans helped us win”

Mendilibar: “The fans helped us win”

The press conference of the coach of Olympiacos, José Luis Mendilibar, following the victory over Ferencváros.

The coach of Olympiacos, José Luis Mendilibar, appeared satisfied with the victory and the presence of the fans, in his statements following the 1–0 win against Ferencváros at “G. Karaiskakis.”

In detail the press conference of José Luis Mendilibar:

Before the match, you said that the key is for Olympiacos to show more antagonism, did you see that in the match?

A little, not much. I believe that we had a relatively better attitude and were more confident. We corrected a few things, but certainly not all the way. We need time, but we don’t have any.

How different will the rematch be from tonight’s game?

We will try to play a stronger game in the first half, because tonight we struggled a lot. We are also a little dependent on what the opponent will do on their pitch. This week we will try to work on some stuff and the team needs to understand some new concepts we want to pass on. We will definitely try to present an improved performance, which we did not achieve tonight, despite getting a good result.

In compiling the line-up, did you also have in mind Sunday’s game against PAOK?

In no way was I thinking about my second game. This was my first game here and I wanted to win, so in order to achieve this you must choose the players you think are the best to get the result you want. In the general run of things, you know the team you take on, but you never know a player until you carry out a first practice session with him. I used the few days I had here to see which players are in better shape without thinking about the next game.

Mr. Stanković said that the difference took place in the second half, after the substitutions. Do you agree with this, that the key was the substitutions you made that got you the victory?

Not just the substitutions, but we changed the game a bit for the most part. We noticed that Ferencváros grew tired due to the effort they made in the first half. We were able to possess the ball for longer and become more threating. We saw Carmo’s nice energy, but the goalkeeper kicked the ball away, and we realised from that point onwards that we possess the energy to go on. We improved in the second half and we were aware that the opponent was tired, and we tried to take advantage of that. That was the difference, not the substitutions we made, but the switch to our game and becoming a little more aggressive.

Olympiacos essentially scored in the 4-4-2 formation, with both strikers participating in the goal. Are you considering this formation for the future?

Even though there were two strikers on the pitch, this was not the intention. Instead, it was to get Jovetić to help the centre and fuel our striker, and to open up the game so that our striker could score. It may have seemed that we had a 4-4-2, but the idea was to get the second striker in and help the midfielders, and we continued to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Ferencváros’ defence was intended for the ball to never reach Fortounis. How did you manage to release Fortounis in the second half, without being threatened by the opponent?

Ninety minutes is enough time, and within this time frame you don’t play the same game from start to finish; it is divided into many different games. A lot of times you think you know what you need to do and you try to do that – and it seems to work, but sometimes, no matter what you do, you don’t get what you want. I would like to mention that Ferencváros had the energy to achieve this in the beginning, but the moment they got tired they stopped blocking Fortounis and he had more freedom. Fortounis is a quality footballer and plays smartly, so he knew he had to wait for his opportunity, and when Ferencváros gave him more room, he took advantage of it.

Today, you saw the stadium full for the first time, while a few days ago you saw it empty. How helpful was the fans’ presence?

Certainly, the difference is obvious, especially to the players. As a coach I concentrate a great deal in the game and I want to talk to my players constantly. But when no one can hear me, I realise that there’s a lot of noise, and this is a good thing for the players. We did not make a good start in the first half, but the players maintained their high spirit and they played good ball thanks to the fans, so we made it.

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