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: “We weren’t good, nothing but victories until the end”

Mendilibar: “We weren’t good, nothing but victories until the end”

Words by José Luis Mendilibar after the end of the Olympiacos v PAOK match

Olympiacos suffered a 2-0 defeat in Thessaloniki to PAOK and the team’s coach, José Luis Mendilibar, after the end of the match emphasized that the “red and whites” did not put on a good display as in their recent fixtures.

Here is the press conference of the Basque coach:

Has Olympiacos “run out of energy” after the great qualification in Europe or was PAOK too well-prepared at a tactical level?
It is true that PAOK played a good game and won fairly. On the contrary, we didn’t show anything of what we have shown in our recent matches. We kept the ball just for the sake of it, we couldn’t exploit it, and so the opponent controlled the game.

It seemed like you were looking for a quick goal and Olympiacos was dangerous. Was it crucial that you couldn’t achieve that?

Our intention has always been the same; we wanted to enter the pitch and take control since this is our game and we like to be in control. We wanted to create chances, we tried, but that lasted only for 12 minutes. Then the opponent was better than us and took control of the game, and from then on, we just couldn’t achieve anything.

Given the fixtures until the end of the championship, Olympiacos could finish second, but could also be left out of Europe. How do you handle that?
Of course, what we want is to win the two remaining matches for the championship, as our intention was to win against PAOK, but we didn’t succeed. The game didn’t work out for us at all. We need to win the matches to secure our place in Europe through the championship; we can’t just wait to see what will happen in the final. It’s a final that if it doesn’t go well, we risk staying out of Europe, so we need to get one of the top three positions. If we win the final, it will be a really great opportunity to play in Europe under different conditions, but our goal is to be in the top three. Therefore, we need to win our coming matches.

Do you think, judging by the result, that you should have made more changes to your starting eleven compared to the match against Aston Villa?
I don’t know if it would have been better, we made five changes compared to the Thursday match. And now that the game is over, we saw that neither those who played on Thursday nor those who didn’t play were good. When the team is not good, really nothing can go well, it’s not about individuals. Maybe I also failed to motivate the players as I should have after Thursday’s success; maybe we didn’t get into the game mentally, and in that, the coach has the biggest responsibility; maybe because the players couldn’t understand exactly what they had to do. I don’t know if this was due to specific individuals, but, all in all, the team wasn’t good today.

Is the level of Greek football high enough to claim more European finals?
When you do this once, you gain a different “panache” and approach, and that helps you. Also, you make your opponents respect you more. Therefore, a team that succeeds once is easier to do it a second time. Generally, when you play in Europe many times and you have a good run, your opponents respect you more. Real Madrid has achieved this many times and whether it wins the title or not, when it is in the final of Europe, everyone always considers it a favorite because they do know how to get there. And the farther a team proceeds in Europe, the more respect it gets and gets closer to its target.

You have now been in Olympiacos for three months, what is your opinion on the Greek championship?
In the Greek championship, there are four teams that stand out. Aris, which is the fifth team, could be close to the others, but it seems like it doesn’t want it, like it doesn’t believe in it. The other teams are quite far away. However, this happens in many championships, as in the Premier League where three teams are far ahead and the others are far away. This is something common in all championships. But it’s good for Greek football that we are close to putting more teams in Europe and for Greek teams to show what they really deserve. The fact that Olympiacos is in the final of the Conference League and PAOK was in the “8” is proof that our championship has improved compared to other European championships.

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