It was a purple Saturday with a perfect scenario: a packed stadium, great atmosphere and a victory.
What was the derby like from the sidelines? “We are very pleased with the victory. It was a tough game. A home game, where the imperative to win was on our shoulders. This was evident in the beginning, when we weren’t relaxed enough, but the players were tactically very mature. The opponent couldn’t find a way to threaten us and our defenders kept things tidy at the back with help from their teammates. We scored at the right moment and Luka once again showed what kind of striker he is. The goal completely shut the away team off and gave us that extra confidence boost, so that in the end, we got what we wanted.”
Despite it being the first official match after seven weeks of preparations, which is always an unpredictable affair, there were a lot of positive things to take away from it. We had the right strategy to succeed.
“The opponent didn’t surprise us; they played similarly to how they played in their test matches. They didn’t change anything in this respect. We were well prepared for the match. The boys did well. They believed that we could come out on top if we stuck to our game. When the away team was about to make a mistake in going forward or when passing the ball to the keeper, it paid off to be persistent. Apart from the team, the fans were brilliant as well. The atmosphere was fantastic and I think we can all be pleased. Especially if you consider this was the first match, which is always specific. The coming matches will show the quality we have in going forward. It will come easier and faster for us. We will improve, but our derby performance was already good enough for the first match. Good enough and worthy of a victory.”
The victory also means we are up by 3 points in the league table. However, the team didn’t get carried away with celebrations. There are still 14 games to go until the end of the season, with 42 points up for grabs.
“This victory is very important for our head-to-head record, but we mustn’t succumb to euphoria. It’s not over yet. There are 14 opponents still waiting for us. And they won’t be any easier to beat than Olimpija. We know they will do everything possible to beat us, but we’re ready for that challenge. We’ll stick to our plan. The chemistry between the boys is excellent and with hard work, top form is only a matter of time. At that point, the opponents will seem weak on the pitch, but in fact NK Maribor will just be that good,” is how Darko Milaniè wrapped up the derby-story.