«Self-confident and determined to win»
Răzvan Lucescu spoke to Novasports TV ahead of the encounter against Olympiakos in Toumba Stadium for matchday 20 of Super League Souroti. Here is what PAOK coach had to say:
Regarding his expectations for the match:
«It’s a clash between two great teams. We are self-confident and going through a very good spell. We are aware of the team’s crucial nature, but we don’t consider it a final. There are three points at stake –whatever happens, we will still be in the lead. But we determined to win».
Regarding preparations for the game, both mental and tactical:
«Every match has its own unique character. Some things remain the same, but details differ and dictate how a match should be handled by the football section and the entire club. Methods remain the same, details differ».
Regarding the game’s importance:
«It’s not a final –that’s the reality. Fans and journalists often tend to create a special atmosphere around a game, but that is not accurate. As I said earlier, after this match PAOK will be at the top no matter what. It will be a very good match between two top Greek teams».
Whether he expects surprises in the game:
«We always want to win. That is our philosophy. We want to achieve victory in our own way. Sometimes there are circumstances dictating a different approach, like it happened in Karaiskakis or in the Olympic Stadium a week ago. The dismissal of Jabá changed the complexion of the encounter. We had to adjust and react. Let me get back to your statement about a ‘final’. No matter what happens in this match, it’s not a final, because the league will be decided in the end. If we win, we will have a 9-point lead, but we still have to prepare for the next game. Olympiakos know for sure that, if they lose on Sunday, it will be tough for them to bounce back. That might make our lives easier, but nothing will be decided on Sunday».
On the team’s reaction after the departure of Prijović:
«This is not related to signings, but to the team’s quality. Let me also underline that our actual distance from our rivals, the one gained on the pitch, is eight points –and that is fantastic. It’s the fruit of collective work of all players and the team. We are undefeated and have just two draws. There are always tough patches ahead, such as red cards, some bad days at work, but we must always find it in ourselves to turn situations around. The recent transfer window provided us with more alternatives, ahead of back-to-back matches. Prijović and the other guys helped us reach a point. Now we continue with the newcomers and those who stayed and we are ready to achieve even more. We started the season with a two-point deduction, a very important detail. We reacted and managed to get over it. I am not angry at your line of questioning, nor am I reacting. I am just trying to explain my way of thinking. PAOK were punished enough in previous months by court verdicts. We hold on to our dignity and we keep going».
Regarding his team selection:
«Only Cañas is sidelined. Świderski is ready to play».
On match tickets being sold out:
«It wasn’t hard to achieve, since there are 20.000 season tickets. I am happy for our fans’ excitement and I am expecting a hot atmosphere. Hopefully we will all celebrate a great victory».
On the incessant interest of Romanian media regarding his career at PAOK:
«It’s the same with all Romanians based abroad».
Regarding Olympiakos and Sunday’s game:
«I don’t know what to say. As I said earlier, I expect a good game between two great teams and my team to win».