Olimpija gained momentum in the derby for a difficult away game on Wednesday in Lille, where they will have to show a much better game. Maribor was in a subordinate position for most of the match in Stožice and could not find a way out of the crisis.
In the first half, the green and whites had a lot of space, a lot of time to receive the ball and make accurate passes, and they were especially dangerous from the wing positions. The people of Maribor were competing to see who would make more mistakes, and the minimal gap at the break was not really a realistic indicator of what was happening on the green.
The purple ones completely slept through the first half. They woke up only in the 69th minute, when Marin Laušić reduced the score to 2:1 with a header. They had two great chances to equalize. Reserve Xhuliano Skuka shot past the goal with his right foot from a favorable position ten meters from the goal, and then Jan Repas shot straight at goalkeeper Matevža Vidovšek.
In the last four matches, the purple team won only two pointsThis was the fourth match in a row when Maribor disappointed. They squandered a 2:0 lead against Rogaška in Krško, then only drew in Ljudské vrt with Domžale (1:1) and lost 0:2 in Celje two weeks ago. Olimpija’s 2-1 victory in the first derby this season is fully deserved.
Warrior: I think I can be the leader of this teamThe Dragons have a wide cast. The absence of the injured Timi Max Elšnik was also unknown this time. Already on Wednesday in Lille, the people of Ljubljana will start the group stage of the Conference League.
“We are very satisfied with the performance. In the first half, we completely controlled the course of the meeting, but unfortunately we scored only once. We started the second half well, I scored for 2:0. The conceded goal pushed us back. We left the rhythm to Maribor, but we kept our lead until the end. Our concentration dropped after the conceded goal,” the 19-year-old Ratnik was in a very good mood at the press conference,
In this season, the teenager has already played many matches. Olimpija played successfully in European competitions, and he also played for the U21 national team.
“I feel a little tired already. When I’m completely exhausted, I’ll tell the coach because I won’t benefit the team. I’ll have to rest to avoid injuries. Wearing the captain’s armband in the derby was very emotional. I think I can be the leader of this team.”
Henriques: We wanted to win three points even for the president who was celebrating his birthdayJoao Henriques sat on the Olimpija bench for the first time in the derby. “The derby is always very important for our club. We wanted to win three points also for the president, who was celebrating his birthday. He invested a lot in the club. This is very important in Slovenia, it means a lot to the fans.”
“We had a lot of chances, we should have given ourselves a higher lead, but then we conceded a cheap goal. We were too confident when leading 2:0 and the opponent scored a goal. Maribor did not believe in success until the goal for 2:1, but then they started to believe. This is normal. It was an important lesson for the next matches,” explained the 50-year-old Portuguese.
“Now I have a much wider cast, we have more solutions. It is difficult to play two matches a week with 15 or 16 footballers. Now we have 24 and it won’t make any difference if someone is missing. Of course, we missed Elšnik, but we still found a solution.”
10,000 seats remained empty16,000 spectators gathered for the former aces’ charity game on Friday, and many seats were empty on Saturday night. 5380 spectators is a very poor attendance for a derby.
“I always wish to play in the full Cones. Also in other matches, not only in the derby. We play attacking, more risky, so that people enjoy the spectacle,” Henriques concluded.
After the departure of Zahovič still without a win in StožiceWhen Zlatko Zahovič was the sports director of the purple team, they regularly won points in Stožice. They celebrated their last victory on September 28, 2019, when Darko Milanič was the coach. When they then left Ljudski vrt together with Zahovič in March 2020, problems began on all levels.
Only defender Nemanja Mitrović was in the squad four years ago during Maribor’s last victory in Stožice (2:4). All the other football players have already left Ljudski vrt, where many changes have taken place. The group stage of European competitions was a constant during the Zahovič era, but now it is a distant goal.
Krznar: We can ask if this point was deservedIt will be difficult for the people of Maribor to interfere in the fight for the title of national champion, it is also well known that the leaders of the game are injured. Captain Martin Milec and sniper Arnel Jakupović are definitely added value, and 35-year-old El Arbi Hillel Soudani, who excelled mainly at Dinamo Zagreb, has not yet recovered from his injury and it will be a while before the Algerian debuts in the First League.
“I’m happy with the game in the opening 15 or 20 minutes, we defended well. We scored both goals from stoppages, where it was not about tactical knowledge, but about determination, desire and will. That decided the match. In the second half, we recovered after conceding the second goal, reduced the score to 2:1 and had two great chances to equalize. One may wonder if this point was deserved. When you don’t deserve it, you don’t get it,” the derby coach of Maribor, Damir Krznar, assessed very realistically, admitting that striker Erico Castro was completely cut off from the game. Max Watson and Ignacio Guerrico were also disappointing.
They were close in number of chances, but definitely not in terms of playWhen he succeeded Radovan Karanović on August 16 last year, the purples were in last place in the First League. In the spring, he managed to stabilize the team, but the gap behind Olympia was too big. Even the autumn part of this season does not promise to turn in the right direction.
“In every game in Slovenia, Maribor must be on the field as a favorite. This time we passed on the responsibility to someone else. I’m not happy because we didn’t play with heart. I was sure it would be an even match. We were close by the number of chances, but definitely not by the game.”
Ilicic enabled Olimpija to counterattack two timesJosip Iličić entered in the 75th minute, but he was not successful with his plays. He lost the ball twice and Olimpija launched a counter-attack, but did not complete it successfully.
“Ilicic entered the game and his task was to pull two or three players on him. If he manages to get the ball forward, it’s an opportunity for us. He failed and the rival counterattacked. We had to take risks with a 0:2 deficit“, Krznar emphasized.
During the analysis, Pirih warned 50 times that Ratnik is dangerous at the second postMarcelo Ratnik’s goal for 2:0 best describes Maribor’s big problems. After a cross from the right side, the ball flew all the way to the long post, the people of Maribor were disorganized and the 19-year-old captain of the dragons easily pushed the ball into the net from close range.
“We were preparing for interruptions. Mitja Pirih is in charge of this analysis and he warned 50 times that Ratnik is dangerous at the second goal,” admitted the 51-year-old Croatian.
Krznar is not thinking about leavingIn Maribor, coaches lost their jobs when they were leading the table. Now, for the second season in a row, the position is very unfavorable already at the beginning of the season.
“I’m not bothered by rumors that I’m about to lose my job. Communication with sports director Šuler is at the right level. I think I will feel the right moment to leave. I don’t feel it at the moment,” explained Krznar, who added that he missed some of the mainstays of the game: “Four players from the first lineup were missing. Soudani, Kolar, Jakupović and captain Milec. This is no excuse, as we had eleven players who can compete with anyone in Slovenia.”
Koper is coming to Ljudski vrt next Sunday. “We need one win to reverse the negative trend. We will do our best to succeed against Koper,” concluded Krznar.
Vrhovec “boiled” Olimpija’s second goalBlaž Vrhovec also did not have his evening. “Za well-deserved victory for Olimpija, as we were not at the right level in the first half. We had chances to make it 2:2, but it wasn’t enough. The boys are giving it their all, but right now it’s not enoughj.”
In the 65th minute, he committed an unnecessary foul on the sideline, and then scored the second goal for Olimpia from a free kick. “I missed at the second post and we conceded the second goal. It was a worse foul than a free kick foul.”
Both goals were scored from stoppages, which were practiced for two hours on Friday“Every footballer lives to play in derbies. I’m glad the coach gave me a chance. I hope there will be more. I feel like one of the playmakers that should play better,” thought Vrhovec, who admitted that they were disappointing in the last two away games against the best teams in the league.In both games against the leading teams, we fell on the bases. This time we received both goals from stoppages, which we practiced for two hours on Friday. Such things should not happen.“
The 31-year-old played for Maribor from July 2016 to January 2022 and knows the situation at the club well. “I love Maribor very much and it is difficult to see it in such a state. I know it will get better. It always has been. I always believe that we are the best, although this may not be a realistic picture. My team is always the best.”