Nuno: Football behind closed doors gives me an empty feeling
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo says football behind closed doors gives him an empty feeling.
His side play Olympiakos at Molineux on Thursday in the second-leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.
Before the first-leg in Athens in March, which finished 1-1, right at the start of the problems created for European football by the coronavirus pandemic, Nuno said there was ‘no point’ playing matches with no fans in the stadium.
Nearly five months on and after the experience of his side playing nine closed-doors games in the Premier League, the Portuguese manager’s view has not changed, even if he can understand why it is happening.
With the 2020-21 Premier League season set to start on 12 September and fans not allowed in stadiums until the beginning of October at the earliest, the situation is not likely to change any time soon.
However, Nuno knows there are billions of pounds at stake in TV contracts that make playing games essential.
“My opinion didn’t change too much,” he said. “We want to compete with the fans in the stadium.
“But the pandemic is not over. Maybe the second wave is coming. But at the same time we are committed to helping football.
“In the end, everyone will have time to decide what to do themselves in this situation but, for now, everybody in football must help and must commit and stay together.”
Wolves have no injuries or suspensions to contend with so Nuno should be able to field his strongest team against the Greek champions.
Olympiakos will be without first-choice goalkeeper Jose Sa. The 27-year-old has picked up a wrist injury, meaning Bobby Allain could be handed his European debut.
Portuguese defender Ruben Semedo will also miss out through suspension, after being sent off in the first leg.
Jota’s golden touch at home – the match stats
- This will be just the second competitive meeting between Wolves and Olympiakos, after the side’s 1-1 draw in Greece in the first leg.
- Wolves’ Europa League campaign began over a year ago, playing their first qualifying game against Crusaders on 25 July 2019. The English side last progressed to the quarter-finals of a major European competition back in 1972 in the Uefa Cup, going on to reach the final that season in which they were beaten by Tottenham.
- Olympiakos have already knocked English opposition out of the Europa League this season, overcoming a first leg defeat to Arsenal in the previous round.
- The Greek side will be aiming to reach the quarter-finals of a major European competition for the first time since the 1998-99 Champions League campaign.
- Wolves have scored in all eight of their Europa League matches since their 1-0 defeat to Sporting Braga in their opening group game (18 goals in total).
- Wolves’ Diogo Jota has scored a hat-trick in back-to-back Europa League appearances at Molineux (v Besiktas & Espanyol) – the last player to score three hat-tricks in a single European season was Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid during the 2015-16 Champions League campaign.
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