First team


The Sevilla coach spoke to the press on the 'Open Media Day' ahead of the final of the UEFA Europa League
Cuerpo Superior

José Luis Mendilibar spoke to the media in the Sánchez-Pizjuán press room. Speaking on the occasion of the 'Open Media Day' organised in the build-up to the final, the Nervion boss began by saying, "We're talking about six days from now and we've got a game in between. We're drawing up plans to shape the team and arrive as healthy as possible for the final. We played yesterday, we'll play on Saturday and the final is on Wednesday. It's a very tight schedule and we're grateful for that, but it's complicated, especially for the players. For me to make the teams and to arrive well, but without neglecting the other matches. Yesterday we also played 70 minutes with one man down. We have to think about everyone and we'll train today and tomorrow for Saturday. We'll see next week."

As for the availability of the squad, he indicated that the objective is "to try not to overload the squad with minutes in order to make it to the most important game on Wednesday, but before that we have Real Madrid and then Real Sociedad, which are competitive games and we don't want to mess about. We have to see if we can get people back over the next few days so that they can help us compete well because we don't want to go out just to perform, but to win. We have to see if the injured players like Jordán, Marcao and Nianzou can help us at some point."

Specifically, he was asked about Loïc Badé: "I don't even know my own future, so I don't know what he's going to do. We ask him for defensive security, he is strong in the air, to improve in certain aspects such as passing the ball... Normally we have the tendency to play a lot on the inside and I don't like that too much, I prefer to play on the outside. Let him get his priorities right, he's young and he'll do it for sure. He has to know what each coach asks of him at any given moment. Players have to adapt to that". He also spoke about Ivan Rakitic, about whom he said that "he has been a great player, who is giving us a lot and who is important within the group. He passes on a lot of the good things he has to the rest of the team."

"We're drawing up plans to shape the team and arrive as healthy as possible"

Going into more detail on Wednesday's final, he assured that he hasn't had much time to think about it, although he already feels it: "I haven't had time to think about the final. Yes, I've been drawing up sketches of the teams to get there as prepared as possible, but there have been some very important games for the club in which you can't fool around. I haven't been able to think too much about the final or the opposition, although I have seen Roma's games. I'm focused on getting to the Madrid game alive to prepare well for the final from Sunday to Tuesday."

And on how his Family and friends back home are finding ti, Mendilibar pointed out that "everything has been completely shaken up. My close friends are now Sevilla supporters and that's football. The whole family and some friends are coming from Bilbao to make a living. There are quite a few people thinking about the final." On his popularity with Sevilla fans and with the city of Seville, he was grateful: "I don't go out too much, but when I do go out it's true. The people here are very welcoming and give their all. Up there, in this situation, they look at you but rarely greet you or ask you for anything. Wherever you go you have to get used to people, so I'm fine with that.

He also spoke about the opposition team's coach, whose training he was able to oversee just a few years ago: "He's one of the best. Just looking at where he has been and what he has won can make you scared. I think that he has won every European final he has been in, he has managed the best teams in Europe and everything he says is good. To be able to face him is incredible and we will try to beat him. He was in Madrid, we were free and we watched him take a training session. We watched two sessions, a match and thanked him for letting us be there. I think he has shown he is a great coach, he has implemented his style of play at many clubs and has done well. That is what makes a good coach, because often you want to change the way a team plays but it doesn't happen because you can't convince the player." With regard to Mourinho's side, he highlighted that "it's more Italian, like Juventus, but at the same time they rotate their side often like we do. But they are a traditional Italian team."

"It's a traditional Italian side, like Juventus"

On his team being favourites, he spoke about the history of the club in this competition, but giving respect to the opponent: "I think that Sevilla will be favourites given we have won this competition six times. Some people prefer to look at the budgets of both sides, others look at their history. However you want to look at it, you can see both sides winning it. And I would not discount Sevilla. I see it 50-50."

Speaking precisely on the qualities of the opponent and Dybala, he expressed how "we are going to come up against eleven players, not just one. I am not going crazy before this because our style will not change. At the last minute you can change what you say to the players on an individual level, but the overall style will not change too much. If Dybala plays it will be because he is good, and if not, because there is someone better. I am relaxed with that."

With regard to the importance of this competition, he stressed what he has experienced here: "It's not the club. It's the people. When I arrived two months ago, we were two points off the relegation zone and in the quarter-finals. At no moment did I tell the players they should not focus on the UEL so that we could do well in LaLiga. They want it all. You come and you feel that this club is bigger than others you been at, because of the desire to win. The players impress you and in two and a half months we will have played 17 matches, and in each one we felt we could win. You can't make excuses and you have to plan to play every three days or so, and try to win. This is what the club and the fans demand of you. They say it is good to reach the final, but now you have to win it."

In a similar fashion, he insisted that "it's very important for the club to be able to play in the Europa League and even more so the chance to play in the Champions League next season. The club need this, because otherwise the income goes down and the budget changes, and so do the objectives as a result. I feel as if hardly anyone remembers you if you lose a final. We have reached the final, now let's see if we can win it."

To close, he wished to send a message to the fans: "It's difficult to get there because there aren't flights and not enough room for all of us to go. There are people making long trips and taking days off to be there. I thank them all and to those who can't go, I hope they support us from here and we hope to give them a good reason to party afterwards."