We've drawn Manchester United in the knockout phases of the Champions League! We play at home in Karaiskaki first before making the long trip (well, short trip for me) to Old Trafford in the return. The games will take place on 18/19 and 25/26 February at home and away on 11/12 and 18/19 March.
The draw was as probably as good as we could have hoped for. We will have to see if the team gets strengthened during the Winter transfer window. (pffff, some hopes!)
I know that you may have heard it all before but I've had a pretty shitty 2012+1. In fact, due to the crapness of the year I've had very little to no time at all to do any work on this site.
It's been a real shame to be honest because I've done work on here for probably the best part of five years and to have suddenly gone from having spare time to having nothing at all has been a real pain in the arse for me.
Anyway, things are quietening down for me and perhaps I will get some time to do some work once again.
Let me start off then with a couple of small articles. Firstly, my namesake is doing a great job in charge of the team especially with qualifying from the Champions League group ahead of Benfica and Anderlecht both of which have higher budgets than ours.
In fact it says something about Michel's quality that he was able to get qualification when the team has had a net profit in the transfer market for the past three transfer windows. I think we've been unique in being a champions league team not investing any money on strengthening the team substantially, thats a moan for another day though - lets just enjoy the moment.
Unbeaten in Greece and 10 points in Europe, that has to be something to be happy about.
Our final friendly game of the pre-season was us defeated by CF Valencia but perhaps we shouldn't have been. We had two goals ruled as offside and the second looked to me to be an unfair decision. We started off badly though and the first ten minutes saw Valencia all over us. We conceded a goal in the first five minutes from the fast pace of the Spanish forwards, coupled with our defensive mistakes, and it looked like it was going to be a long night when they came close a couple of minutes afterwards.
However in true Olympiakos style, we had a shocking first ten-fifteen minutes but then improved drastically after that. We started pushing up the field and pressing Valencia well into their own half. The second goal was actually against the run of play but again we were punished by the speed of the opposition.
The second half was much better and we were by far the better team. There were the odd scares but in the main we should have at least drawn the match. In actual fact we did manage to do this only to see Olaitan's legitimate goal ruled offside.
We now look forward to facing Kalloni in OAKA next monday.
Olympiakos : Roberto (46 Megyeri), Papazoglou (75' Salino), Medjani, Siovas (46' Manolas), Holebas, Fejsa (66' Samaras), Maniatis (60' Machado), Dominguez (46' Fuster), Campbell (46' Olaitan), Weiss (66' Fetfatzidis), Mitroglou (60' Saviola).
Arena : Mestalla (55,000 Attendence)
Normally I watch Olympiakos matches using a MyTV program but as I'm due to go out of country within a week for an extended period, I let my membership lapse and thought I'd use a stream instead. How wrong I could be... There were a grand total of fuck all streams available for last nights match and so I couldn't watch it at all. This is the summary from the official site :-
"Megyeri was at the goal; Salino, Cholevas, Papadopoulos and Siovas in defense; Fejsa, Maniatis and Dominguez covering the midfield, and Campbell, Weiss and Saviola with attacking duties.
Olympiacos superiority and pressure produced an early opening goal. In 13’, Jose Cholevas fired the corner kick and Siovas headed it in for 1-0.
Olympiacos kept on its pressure on the opponent and lost several chances for a second goal, however the first half ended with no change.
After the break, our side’s coach substituted several players, but Olympiacos remained aggressive whatsoever. Nevertheless, the 1-0 score remained as such until the end of the fixture."
OK, so far so good. I've heard from several people that they were satisfied in the performance and the result. I now want to see how we do against Valencia in the Mestalla stadium - never an easy place to visit.
Goal video follows.
Apologies for the lateness of this article. I went to Liverpool on Saturday to watch my beloved team play in Steven Gerrards testamonial. Liverpool isn't too far away for me and so I was there bright and early (and on my own) within 2 hours of setting off. I managed to meet up with some familiar faces from the Gate7 Londonclub before we all went inside.
We had perhaps 60 Olympiakos supporters with a lot of people being missing on holidays in Greece or unable to get transport to Liverpool (not the easiest place to get to if you don't drive). We did have two people fly in from Cyprus especially for the game and 5 or 6 others from the Gate7 Piraeus club who also flew in to attend the game. In addition to this, we have probably the same amount of people again who sat near us and attended through various reasons.
I don't like football games in England and this one was no exception - with the stewards forcing us to sit down or risk being kicked out from the stadium. We did get some chants going but its never the same when you're sat down and unable to move or jump around.
As for the game - what a mess. I think we were very lucky to only concede two goals, we just seemed to make so many defensive mistakes. We lost the ball too often and even kicked it directly to their forwards from the defence on maybe three occasions. At the front, Chori seemed to be playing on the wings (?) and it seemed to me that we were experimenting too much which is a bit poor when you consider that the league kicks off in two weeks.
After the game, we spoke and then broke up to go back to the cars. On my way back to the wasteland where I'd parked, I ran into Vangelis Marinakis getting in a very posh rental car. Thought I'd take the opportunity to have a word but I don't think he spoke english so it fell flat very quickly.
Oh well, we move and onto Anderlecht at Karaiskaki on Wednesday evening.
We drew our latest friendly (against SV Sandhausen) with a 2-2 scoreline. We didn't play particularly well in either half but there was some positive performances from some of the players. We saw Weiss and Saviola make their debuts whilst Olaitan had a great performance. It'd also be fair for me to compliment Papazoglou and Salino as well.
For the bad though, Mitroglou and Fetfatzidis blew several chances and didn't have great games. Diamantakos seemed to be missing for most of the first half and Di Vincente put in a dreadful performance.
In all though, it was disappointing to see us drawing a game against a Bundesliga 2 team but we're still at a stage of testing and having new players settle into the team. There's probably more positives than negatives and I'll leave it at that.
Olympiakos : Megyeri (46' Roberto), Papazoglou (62' Salino), Manolas, Siovas (46' Medjani), Lykogiannis (62' Holebas), Machado (46' Samaris), Di Vicente (46' Fejsa), Olaitan (62' Campbell), Fetfatzidis (62' Weiss), Diamantikos (62' Saviola) & Mitroglou (46' Chori)
The other thing worth mentioning is that I renewed my club membership last week - I was mulling on whether to do this or not but was finally swayed by the lovely lady in the membership office who reminded me that the funds largely pay for the amateur clubs.
So far so good but I was also asked to give some feedback on my thoughts on the scheme - what I get out of it and my thoughts, that sort of thing. Anyway I wrote her a long email and will see on what happens next. I'd like for some incentive from the club here but I won't hold my breath.
Ah, as I say, we'll see...