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 before the match Olympiacos–Fenerbahce

The press conference before the match Olympiacos–Fenerbahce

What the coach of Olympiacos, José Luis Mendilibar, and the team’s footballer, Kostas Fortounis, said.

Olympiacos will face Fenerbahce on Thursday (11/04, 19:45), for the first match of the “8,” for the UEFA Europa Conference League.

In view of the match at “G. Karaiskakis,” the team’s coach, José Luis Mendilibar, and footballer Kostas Fortounis spoke at the press conference.

In detail, what was said at the press conference at “G. Karaiskakis”:

Have you decided on your starting lineup for the match?
Yes, I have decided on it – it’s the match’s eve and I have made my decisions since yesterday. I hope nothing comes up during training to make me change my plans.

Do you think that what is happening in Fenerbahce is a good thing for Olympiacos or that it doesn’t matter?
I don’t think it matters. If anything, Fenerbahce’s attention is on the Conference and they aren’t thinking about what is happening in the Turkish championship. They are a team full of warriors who don’t do any favours and will fight and claim the qualification.

Does the fact that Fenerbahce hasn’t played an official game in five days, make Olympiacos’ job easy or difficult?
Certainly, they won’t have any injuries since they haven’t played in so long. Same for us, though; we played three days ago, and all the players are ready – only one player was expelled. They had the opportunity to play in their championship but they took down the second team. This shows that they believed they didn’t need to compete, so they will be ready now.

The stadium will be packed. What do you have to say to that?
It’s up to us. We are the ones who have to motivate the fans, and in order to do that, we have to make a good start at the match. We want to keep them happy all the time, we know they are always here and by our side.

There are players who are on the card limit. Has this played any role in your choice for the line-up?
We only think about tomorrow’s game, not the rematch. We must win anyway, so we will not be affected by what can happen in the second game. We have a full squad, the problem is with the central defenders, we have three and if someone receives a card, it will be a loss. But we we’re not thinking about that now.

The start was bad for Olympiacos in previous European home games. Is this something you worked on?
We should not dwell on the bad aspects, nor should we be thinking about the old days. There was a period during which we did not make a good start, not just in Europe, but in Greece as well; we conceded first goals and struggled. But things have changed. We mustn’t forget about what we have accomplished. The team’s dynamics has changed, and we have greatly improved. We are not forgetting what we have been through, but we want to make a good appearance, not just at the start, where we have struggled before, but throughout the entire game.

Is Jovetić a sort of pleasant head-scratcher regarding tomorrow’s lineup?
You will find out tomorrow whether this is part of our basic plan or not. Either way, these head-scratchers are pleasant. It is important to know that you can use players from the bench, and this means that the whole team will receive support. Whether someone is coming from the bench or is a starter, and will remain so, this helps the whole team.

Fortounis: “Ready for the first step”

You are celebrating 10 years with Olympiacos. This year, Olympiacos is playing during April for the first time. Do you think it is time for the team to achieve something greater?
Certainly, it is something important for the team and the world, we know that we have a huge opportunity to go one step further, Olympiacos must always achieve such European successes. I believe we are ready for tomorrow and take a first step towards qualification.

You always leave your mark on European matches. Do you think this will continue? Is there a secret?
There is no secret, I like the pitch and the fans. I hope this continues and that I continue to help my team with goals or assists, or whatever else is needed on the pitch. And I hope we all perform well on the pitch as a team.

The stadium will be packed. What do you have to say to that?
That’s huge motivation for us, the fans will be supporting us and the stadium will be full. We want them to be happy and experience huge success, and that’s what we will strive to achieve.

Will Podence’s absence be a burden for Olympiacos’ offence, and what does it mean?
Danny is a footballer who is helpful, cooperates well with me personally and all the players. But Olympiacos has great players to replace the gap, and I believe that whoever participates will give their best and help the team.

Following two cruciate ligament reconstructions, you have made a career record and a double-digit number in assists and goals. How have you managed to bounce back to this level?
I certainly had difficulties during the past years; injuries held me back, but I never stopped working on reaching the level I was at and even higher. I love what I do in football, I enjoy it and I am happy to be healthy. I had promised myself that my son would see me play as I was before.

What do you think is the most important element Olympiacos should possess and how important are the first 20 minutes?
It is important that the team playing at home makes a very strong start on the pitch. However, we must be careful with the opponent, because they have quality players and can create opportunities for us at any moment. It is important to start strong, score a quick goal, and take the lead with the fans’ help.

The last time you played with Fenerbahce, only you, Masouras, and El Arabi were on the roster, how much has the team changed since, and do you think it’s better now?
I hope that we are better, so that we can put pressure on the opponent and qualify. The team is different now; it has a different coach, different players. The team has improved and we are standing strong. The opponent was not as strong as they are now – we will try to do our best.

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