Matchday 5 of the Champions League saw us travel to Germany for our tie against Schalke04. We had already more or less qualified for the Europa League but a win here would move us into second position (at least) and put us into a prime position to qualify for the next stage. We therefore needed a win, away to very tough opposition, to have any real chance of progressing to the last 16.
We didn't start off the match too badly. We got forward, won a couple of corners and generally matched the Germans play for play at the start of the game. Maybe we were a little sloppy on the passes but we at least looked bright and energetic. The first twenty five minutes showed little in the way of end chances for either team although it had to be admitted that the few chances were all in Schalkes favour. We made a couple of runs during this period but accomplished little of any note.
As the half progressed the Germans started to come a little closer to our goal with their chances, but we were also standing firm for the moment. For our part we created another corner, free kick and made a few runs on their goal but we were having some trouble in breaking through the German defensive line although we were playing very well further back down the pitch. The half finished at 0-0 and largely we could be happy with our performance, the only real problem was a yellow card to Holebas which means he will miss the match against Arsenal.
Schalke pushed forward in numbers at the start of the second half and we had to defend well to limit the German chances on our goal. We broke up their waves of attacks with counter attacks of our own but we were being pushed further back up the pitch in this phase of the match. Some of the defending was very desperate but we kept the opposition at bay for the time being. As the half progressed, Schalke came at us harder and harder and we were struggling to contain their attacks although we were also defending very admirably. Our clearances were not of the highest quality though and as soon as we had managed to get the ball from the area, we were wasting possession and gifting the ball directly to the opposition.
We were denied a penalty after Abdoun was fouled in the Schalke 6 yard box and we had a couple of chances on the German goal in the 75th minute but we then almost immediately conceded the losing goal at the other end of the pitch. Schalke player Fuchs shot the ball from some distance out, through a gap in our defence and past Carroll who couldn't get to the corner of the goal to stop the ball from going in. With our 77 minutes of responsible defending totally undone we shifted to a more offensive outlook and tried to get the equaliser. Unfortunately we could not manage this and so the game ended in a loss for us.
We had played well defensively for the majority of the game but a single chance from the Germans destroyed our good work. Offensively we were poor though and failed to really get any decent chances on goal for a lot of the game. When we did spring into life towards the end of the game, our passing was not great and we perhaps tried to pass the ball into the goal rather than shooting on first sight of goal.
The loss confirms that we will be playing in the Europa League come the new year.
Schalke 1-0 Olympiakos
Olympiakos : Carroll, Torosidis, Manolas, Siovas, Holebas, Modesto (80' Ibagasa), Maniatis, Greco (66' Fuster), Abdoun, Machado, Mitroglou (75' Djebbour)