Olympiacos, Mendilibar warns Fiorentina: “By winning, we would enter the history of Greek football”

After the triumph against Sevilla a year ago, José Luis Mendilibar dreams of another success with Olympiacos against Fiorentina in the Conference League final, scheduled for Wednesday in Athens: “It’s a very similar scenario – Mendilibar underlines to UEFA. Sevilla was fighting for survival; Olympiacos wasn’t , but the expectations were very high and we weren’t meeting them. We couldn’t win the championship but we could win in Europe, like with Sevilla. We have to keep a clear head, treat it like any other match. The week before the final will be as normal as possible I don’t like changing things just because it’s an important race. We’ve gotten to this point without changing: why do it now?”

Has the greatness of what he did already left its mark?
The other day I spoke to Matías Almeyda, coach of AEK, and he told me: “Congratulations for what you have done for the team and even more for Greek football.” Only then did I realize. The excitement is palpable. When we play at home, the fans arrive more than an hour before kick-off. They cheer like crazy in the street. Anyone who recognizes you stops to say hello. They are euphoric and I hope they will be the same after the final.”

Olympiacos have already won one European trophy this season, the UEFA Youth League. Is he an inspiration?
“They believed in it when no one else did. They played Inter in the round of 16 and Bayern in the quarter-finals; people thought they would fall every time: well, it didn’t happen that way. Olympiacos won and they won well. Then, in the final, Milan started as favourites, but our boys won that too! Olympiacos are hungry to win: if the young players can do it, why shouldn’t we do it too? We were underdogs against Ferencváros, Fenerbahçe and above all Aston Villa, but we found a way.”

What would it mean to give Olympiacos their first European Cup?
“It would be fantastic. We would enter into the history of Olympiacos and Greek football. We know that it will be very tough against an Italian team that plays at the highest level, but in the final you never know.”