CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Leipzig's Dani Olmo speaks to AS: "We can surprise Atlético"

AS speaks exclusively to RB Leipzig's Spanish midfielder Dani Olmo about Thursday's Champions League quarter-final clash with Atlético Madrid.

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Leipzig's Dani Almo speaks to AS: "We can surprise Atlético"
AFP

RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo has joined charitable movement Common Goal, becoming the organisation’s 160th member just days after Juventus striker Paolo Dybala’s incorporation. Established in 2017, Common Goal allows footballers and other members of the football industry to donate a minimum of 1% of their salaries to initiatives and organizations that use football as a tool for social change.

The 22-year-old Spanish international spoke to AS about the motives that have led him to get involved with this project, as well as the important matter of Leipzig’s Champions League quarter final meeting with Atlético Madrid on Thursday.

Have you fully adapted at Leipzig?

Yes, it is not easy to change country and culture and adapt to new concepts, especially with the situation that we have experienced due to Covid-19, but there is never an excuse for not adapting, whether playing or not.

How do you find Nagelsmann's footballing style and methods?

Julian is a young coach who wants to connect with the players, and so he always gets the most out of you. That keeps us alert and in a young team like ours it allows you to grow and improve exponentially. The team changes, adapts and transforms for each game, analysing the opponent and the circumstances of the game. That makes us less predictable. Then we have that freedom to show our talent and our football.

Is it a plus for you to go into game against Atlético without the pressure of being favourites?

It is neither a plus nor a negative; knowing how to manage the pressure and play a Champions League quarter-final is not easy and we have arrived with the enthusiasm of a young team that is at this stage for the first time and that is not satisfied with what it has. We want more. But it is normal for a club of Atléti's size to be the favourite, because they are not only the favourites in this tie, but one of the betting favourites to win this very different edition of the Champions League.

This improvised format of one-leg ties increases the possibility for surprises. Do you feel capable of winning this Champions League in just three games?

This is a very different Champions League, which we hope will never be repeated again. But all of us are just three games away from being champions and there is no team that is going to win it without going out to play. And this format, a single game, can bring beautiful surprises.

Nagelsmann and Simeone have very different styles. Does a team with Atléti’s characteristics suit you?

It is very difficult to play Atléti, they are probably one of the best teams defending, without forgetting that they have players of enormous quality and offensive ability. But we know them well and we will deploy our football to make it a great match where we can surprise them.

Leipzig's German headcoach Julian Nagelsmann reacts during the German first division Bundesliga football match RB Leipzig v SC Paderborn 07.

Dani Olmo: "Footballers are not on the fringes of the social reality"

Let's talk about your social project. Why did you decide to join Common Goal?

From the beginning, I had thought about joining up with Common Goal and it is something that I have been talking about with my family for a long time. I like the idea of it being a collective movement and its meaning, its team aspect and that its purpose is to transform the football industry to maximize its support for those who need it most. Through Common Goal, I am going to support a project of NGO, Cross Cultures Project Association, in Croatia and the Balkans, where the consequences of war are still being felt and where there are still many inequalities between different communities and ethnic minorities.

Footballers are sometimes accused of living in a bubble. How important do you think it is that footballers set an example by supporting social causes?

Footballers are not on the fringes of the social reality and today there are many who are demonstrating that through their actions and their social commitment. I believe we must be aware of the social impact that football has and use it to improve the world around us. If footballers set an example they can inspire many to do the same, and that is a great responsibility. I feel privileged and I also want to use my professional career to contribute my grain of sand to society.

We are currently living through an unprecedented global pandemic. Is it even more important now that athletes set an example to all of society?

I think that at this time we need the collaboration of every one. Athletes or not, we are experiencing a social crisis that demands responsibility from everyone, not just footballers. What athletes have, and footballers in particular, is a scope that allows them to reach many people and all corners. Therefore, in a situation like the one we are experiencing, the scope of our actions can be a great tool. But this is not only the case for footballers, but also for clubs, the media and football in general.