Mandanda: "It's exiting to play"

24 feb 2016
Par 
Allan Chaussard, à Bilbao
Photos © 
OM.net 2016
Steve Mandanda's press conference, the day before the round of 32 return game in the Europa League 2015-16, between Athletic Club Bilbao and OM at the San Mamés stadium.

In the late evening, Steve Mandanda and Michel showed up to face the French and Spanish press at San Mamés Stadium for the traditional pre-game press conference.
The Olympiens' captain spoke first. Relaxed but focused, he seemed positive about the tomorrow's events, while admitting that considering the current phase OM is going through, winning would be no small accomplishment.
In addition, Steve Mandanda was looking forward to the feeling of a grand evening in the Basque stronghold, but he loves that.

The president's words

"I think that it was a message of encouragement. The players are giving everything. We're fulfilling our duties. In my case, anyway, I think so. The president wants to face up to it. He wants the club to get through this round and meet his goals, that's normal, so I think that his intervention is a positive thing."

The team's state of mind before the game

"We're aware that we lost the first game and we know what we're facing tomorrow. This will be a very difficult game in a complicated context. We're coming here with the desire to win and to get into the next round."

The captain's pregame speech

"This will stay between us, but everyone knows what we will be facing tomorrow. It's something great. We all play soccer for these kinds of games, in stadiums with an atmosphere like this one. There won't be a lot to say to the players."

The context?

"Everything that's waiting for us tomorrow: the public, the atmosphere and the goal deficit. All of these factors make the context complicated, but it's exiting to play."

The impatience of the leaders of the locker-room

"We can't be satisfied with the current results. Now, the game against Saint-Etienne is in the past. There are great things waiting for us if we are able to reverse the trend. The post-game report is frustrating, but we have to move forward. Today I have positive things to say because we can't go backwards. We have to believe that, be positive, and do everything to succeed."

The atmosphere at San Mamés

I don't know. It's the first time I've been here. But the whole away-game atmosphere with the hardcore fans, I've already played in that. Some of my teammates too. But we love it. We play soccer for these kinds of stadiums and these kinds of atmospheres. We're been able to get results in away games in complicated stadiums, so why not tomorrow?"

Would it be a stretch to qualify?

"Considering what happened in the first-leg game and everything that's being said about the team, yes. During the drawing, maybe not, but under the current conditions it would be a really nice outcome.

Do you understand the frustration of your team's fans?

"I've been asked that question a lot this season. When I put myself in their place, I can understand why they're frustrated. But they're still behind us and they do as much as they can to encourage us. We're not satisfied with all our results playing at home, that's obvious, but we are working hard to get better results."

Athletic Bilbao

"It's a very well-organized team that plays very, very good soccer. They're capable of getting ahead quickly, such as getting the ball at tough moments. They also have very good players on offense, able to make a difference at any moment, as in the first-leg game."

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