Todays match came from Karaiskaki stadium where we faced Galatasaray in our penultimate friendly of the season. Although we have a couple of injuries to the squad, we turned out as complete a squad as we could in the circumstances. The starting squad consisted of Costanzo in goals, a defence of Maniatis, Papadopoulos, Marcano and Holebas. Modesto and Fejsa were in the centre of midfield whilst Mirallas and Riera were the two wingers. The front two were Pantelic leading the line and Fuster behind him in the attacking midfield role.
As for the match itself, we scored with just 36 seconds on the clock!! Although Galatasaray had kicked off the game, we managed to grab the ball, knock it forward to Mirallas who then beat his markers, sped into the box and cracked it past the keeper. Galatasaray seemed shellshocked by the goal and for the first five minutes it was simply one way traffic as we won corners, free kicks and chances around their area. In comparison the Turks passing and general play was very poor but by 10 minutes into the game, they had settled a little into the match. We came close to a second goal in the 13th minute with Fuster breaking through the Galatasaray defence but unfortunately shooting wide.
As the match went onwards, we started to play a counter attacking style and although this allowed Galatasaray more time on the ball, we were still the more dangerous team by far, still winning corners, making runs at their goal and the odd shot on goal. One of the better chances in the 24th minute with a close range flick from Pantelic which was saved by the keeper with some difficulty. In a similar way, Riera also had a shot on goal (wide) but as the 30 minute mark approached we were still in charge of the game and making all the chances.
In the last 15 minutes of the first half Galatasaray came forward en-masse and started to really pressurise for the equaliser. This gave our defenders plenty of work which they had been lacking so far. Some of the defending was desperate at times but they managed to stand firm and to not concede any goals at this stage of the match. We missed another golden chance to gain a second goal with a Mirallas run in the 43rd minute which beat the keeper but the shot drifted wide of the net. The half ended after a single minute of extra time and we could be very happy with our first half display.
During the second half, we made the substitution of Javito for Pantelic initially and then kicked off. Galatasaray continued to perform the majority of the attacking play in a similar way to how they had finished the first half with ourselves counter-attacking whenever possible. The turks managed to get the ball into the net on the 55th minute but saw their headed effort (from a corner) ruled offside. In order to break up the Galatasaray possession of the ball, we introduced Yeste for Fuster and Hurtado for Fejsa in order to freshen up the midfield.
Just on the hour mark, Mirallas made a stupid response on one of the Turk players who had been niggling him during play and kicked him, he was yellowed for this and was probably very lucky that this was not a competitive match as a Red card would probably have been shown in that instance. The match itself was starting to turn pretty bad tempered with Fatih Terim sounding off on the sidelines whilst the Galatasaray players tried every trick in the book to rile our players. We took the opportunity to substitute Mirallas for Grbic at the first opportunity. Another chance on goal went begging when Riera tried to lob the keeper having broken through the defence only to see his effort go over (possibly through cramp as he was almost instantly subbed off for Papazoglou afterwards.
By the time that the game reached the last fifteen minutes, the Galatasaray players were flopping all over the pitch and simulating injury to get free kicks anywhere in our half. To be fair, they were still doing the majority of the attacking in the game but as they were chasing an equaliser, this is not particularly surprising. We made our final substitution in the 83rd minute with one substitute Hurtado being replaced by another Potouridis. Hurtado looked like he had taken a bad knock and so he was subbed off for safety's sake. We have a final chance to score from a free kick but in this case Yeste shoots directly against the wall and we lose out. The game ends after three minutes of extra time and we have earned our win. We dominated the game for half an hour before changing to a counter attack style and performed very well in breaking up the Galatasaray attacks.
* As a final note, our goalkeeper Costanzo fills me with absolute horror. He seems to flap at balls, is too eager to run out of the box, has butter fingers and on one occasion distributed the ball to Maniatis who was hemmed in the corner and marked by two players. We're in for a long long season if he is to be our first choice keeper. It may be too early to have a downer on him but he looks shockingly shit.
Olympiakos: Costanso, Maniatis, Modesto, Fejsa (57' Hurtado, 84' Potouridis), Pantelic (46' Javito), Riera (70' Papazoglou), Mirallas (67' Grbic), Fuster (57' Yeste), Holebas, Papadopoulos, Marcano.