Lucescu: «We know what we need to do»
Razvan Lucescu spoke to the Novasports cameras ahead of the match against Aris at the Toumba. Read what the Romanian coach said in detail via paokfc.gr.
On whether he can explain PAOK’s appearance in Bratislava in a more calm way:
«Do you think that after the game I do not have the peace to analyze it? It is part of my job to be objective and try to analyze the game as well as possible, so the thoughts are more or less the same. It was a positive result, not maybe perfect, to win and have a 95% chance of qualifying, however, we still have the opportunity in the last game at home to claim the qualification 100%, while at the same time our opponents for the direct qualifying spot Slovan, will play in Copenhagen , a game that is not at easy at all given the quality of Copenhagen.
Today we had a meeting with the players and we tried to analyze the situation. It is definitely a difficult situation, but it is not a bad situation. It could possibly be better. We explained what stage and situation we are in. We are a team that fights for all of our goals, whether it is the championship or qualification to the next phase of the UEFA Europa Conference League, and from next week the battle for the Greek Cup begins. Beyond that, we also had some «bad luck» in the league draw, with many difficult away games in between European competitions. Starting from Gibraltar, after two days we played in Tripoli. After AEK we played with Slovan and then we had to play away from home with OFI. After the away game against Copenhagen, we then went to the «Georgios Karaiskakis». After Copenhagen at home, we went to Panathinaikos. Now, after Slovan, we have to face Aris, a local derby against a team that is hurting after losing 5-0 in their previous match. There is always an away game that we get tired of when it comes to traveling, and we always arrive late at night, so we have to manage this part.
The second element concerns the change of philosophy that we have asked the players to apply. The situation is completely different. And when you have a new team and you try to work things out, it becomes very difficult when you do not have time to train, with all these competitions that we are participating in. During the international break, there are 11 players at the training ground working. When there are consecutive games, the previous day and the next are the only days we can work and implement what we want. It’s a little difficult in terms of our organization and effort. Beyond that, another another element is that apart from Olympiacos, the other teams play just one game per week. So we have to find how to manage the situation, keeping in mind that we have to constantly win, to win facing opponents who have a different approach to their game.
The third, and most important element is that we need to improve our fighting spirit, the winning spirit we want to build; playing every game to win. If we take into account that in the last 23 years Olympiacos has won 20 championships, we must conclude that there is a different experience in terms of managing situations with consecutive games. Beyond that, we must see each game as an opportunity to build the confidence we want, to reach the goals we set. Sometimes things may not work as we would like, but staying focused on your goals is the motivation you need to keep going.
An example, as a short story compared to my previous tenure here, Biseswar was one of our most important players and yet in the European games he was given the opportunity to rest to perform better in the league, but this year we are forced to use him constantly and he does not have the necessary time to rest. This is mainly because we have to overcome injuries and the coronavirus cases during the year.
So, we need to know that we are in a difficult period, but in a good period, that we are not great but we are not bad either. We have to keep our motivation levels high and have that fighting spirit, with the mentality of going out onto the pitch and giving it our all. And I’m sure we will have a lot of fun at the end of the season.»
On whether he is dealing with any transfer issues:
«What concerns me is Sunday’s game.»
On whether he expects some players to return against Aris:
«We have two coming back, one still out. This is what happens when you play so many games. Ingason is available, Michalidis too, biut Crespo is out.»
On their opponents:
«I expect a hard game, against a good team with quality players. They come into this match on the back of a very tough result which really hurt them. We come into it on the back of a European game.»