Wolves v Olympiacos: Leander Dendoncker keen to carry on journey
Leander Dendoncker is not ready for the Europa League adventure to end just yet.
The Belgian got to the Europa League quarter-finals a few years ago with former club Anderlecht – scoring as they were finally knocked out by Manchester United – and he at least wants to follow suit with Wolves, writes Joe Edwards.
Making it to Germany for the mini-tournament which is seeing out the competition is everyone’s aim after starting out in the qualifiers all the way back in July of last year.
It has been a thrilling ride thus far, and Dendoncker insists he knew Wolves had the potential to go deep into the competition right from the get-go.
“Yes, I think so, I think we have proven in the league as well as Europe that we are capable of doing nice things,” he said.
“Until now, we’ve had a very nice journey in Europe, and I think we just to have to try to do the same things again tonight.
“We have to be focused, 100 per cent, until the last minute. That’s what we’re going to try to do.
“Getting to Germany would be really nice for the entire club.”
If Dendoncker features against Olympiacos, it will be his 50th appearance in European competition, including qualifiers.
He admits there is a different pressure in the Europa compared to the Premier League – and it is something he relishes.
“It’s a different atmosphere. It’s something you can sense and feel when you’re on the pitch,” said Dendoncker.
“Obviously, you’re playing against teams from foreign countries, so that’s different in terms of the style of playing and the intensity.
“It’s very different, and very nice to play in.”
So, it is fair to say Dendoncker would like to be playing European football again next season.
The only way to do that now is to win the Europa, which would seal a Champions League spot, after the seventh-placed finish in the top-flight was not enough because of Arsenal winning the FA Cup.
“We all want the same thing, to win this game and try to get as far as possible in this competition, which won’t be easy as there are a lot of good teams still in it,” said Dendoncker.
“We are aware of that, but I think we can be convinced about our own qualities as well.
“I think we can be very confident – and we have to be very confident.
“It was really difficult after the Chelsea game, when we saw that Tottenham drew to finish above us on goal difference.
“That was a huge disappointment for a couple of days, but we knew we had to get back to work and back to training because there is still something really nice going on, which is this game. I think we’re ready.”
The presence of Daniel Podence has helped prepare for the Greek champions, given Wolves signed him from them for £17million in January.
Lively forward Podence spent almost two years with Olympiacos, and on the insight he has offered, Dendoncker added: “He knows the team very well and has spoken to us about them, the way they play and their strategy.
“It’s always interesting to have someone like that with you, but it’s still up to us to be ready and do our jobs.
“We have to focus on ourselves and, hopefully, we can get to the next stage.”
Predicted Wolves XI
(3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Podence