Nuno Espirito Santo insists his Wolves team are ready to compete in their Europa League round of 16 first leg against Olympiacos as the squad prepare to fly out to Athens.
With the game due to be played behind closed doors at the Karaiskakis Stadium as a way of limiting the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), the head coach says his players are fully aware and prepared for the challenges they will face on and off the pitch when they travel to the home of the 44-time Greek Super League champions.
On travelling to Athens amid coronavirus unrest
“Let’s go and compete. It’s not what we wanted, we want to compete in a normal environment with a tough crowd that Olympiacos has, this is the way we love to compete, but the circumstances are that and it’s up to us to focus and compete well in the game.
“I’ve already made my point, I think it doesn’t make sense to play behind closed doors, but it’s the reality and we have to prepare ourselves.
“We are ready. We have all the insurance in terms of health situations and we are ok. It’s just the fact that we love to compete in a normal situation.
“I think it will be better for the competition, for the tie [for the game to be postponed], but now it’s over. We are focused, we are ready. Now we travel, we will rest, and we play tomorrow.”
On a tough Olympiacos test
“Let’s prepare ourselves, knowing that we’re going to face a very tough, tough opponent. Olympiacos is a very good team.
“The proof is the previous tie they had [against Arsenal in the round of 32]. We’ve been analysing and it’s a very good team; quality players, a good manager that I know, and it’s going to be very tough.”
On Daniel Podence returning to his former club
“All the teams know themselves very well, there are no surprises, and we have a lot of tools to see the games. Of course, there are small details that might not be so important at the beginning but must be considered and must be taken to the competition, and of course, Daniel can help us on that.
“He’s ready, as are the rest of the squad. He’s going back to his previous club, but it happens, it’s normal in football, you change clubs and eventually going to face them, so there’s nothing too different on that.
“But, of course, going to Greece to play the last 16 of the Europa League is the best motivation that we have, so we’re going to go there and compete well.”
On adapting preparation from previous Europa League trips
“We have to adjust. We did it before when we went to play in Yerevan, and we had to adjust to our normal schedule.
“It’s going to be different for all the things that we’ve been speaking about, and all the things that happen. We’ve decided to travel now [Wednesday afternoon], we’ve just prepared the game, and we won’t do a training session in the stadium.
“Everybody has to help and everybody has to do each part. It’s our spirit. The best of each one of us, this is how the staff operate the provide the players the best circumstances for them to compete.”
On message to Wolves fans who wanted to travel
“We are very thankful, we appreciate your support and even though the match is going to be behind closed doors, we know that there are going to be fans there in Athens and what we want is them to be safe and try to enjoy the journey, but mainly to be safe.
“We appreciate it, and then when we come back, we can be reunited again and celebrate together.”