Our team managed to top the group and qualify for the round of 16 teams in the NextGen competition after a win over Atletic Bilbao. The win meant that Olympiakos finished ahead of Arsenal, Bilbao and Marseille in the standings.
I don't think this should be brushed over, we have proved that our team is capable of standing toe-to-toe with teams with very advanced youth facilities and beat them. Arsenal is famed for their youth policy and their ability to grow their stars from their academy and Marseille's is similarly very well regarded and known for their results in grooming future players.
We've done very well to top the group in the face of such prestigious teams and academies.
Well I'm back after a long day away in London. We had a good game as I'm sure that most of you would know by now. The scoreline really flattered Arsenal though and a 2-2 draw would have been on the cards if we were a little luckier. The Arsenal fans were non existant, it's amazing that for a stadium of more than 80,000 that they made hardly any noise. The only time we heard from them was when they scored or when they got close.
The police were also behaving like twats when we met up in London during the afternoon. They split us up and marched one group around the local park for some reason or other. Still, we expect the usual heavy handed stupidity and arrogant twattishness from Plod these days.
All in all, it was a good evening and we played very well. Maybe a few too many casual fans for my liking attended, you know the ones who don't shout, don't chant, don't enjoy themselves but all in all it was a decent time and we only lost with some bad luck.
I've already set off for my trip to London to watch us play (and hopefully beat) Arsenal tonight. So for this reason I can't write a report on the match itself.
As for our chances... well, it doesn't look good on paper. We have numerous injuries and what can best be described as an incomplete squad. However as the cliche goers, games are not played on paper and I hope that we can emerge with a positive result from the evening.
I've returned from my holidays now and ready to go to the Emirates stadium for our Champions League game against Arsenal. Our team has been announced as being :-
Goalkeepers (2) :-
Defenders (5) :-
Siovas, Holebas, Manolas, Lykogiannis, Contreras
Midfielders (9) :-
Greco, Ibagasa, Fuster, Modesto, Maniatis, Fetfatzidis, Abdoun, Machado, Diakite
Attackers (3) :-
Diogo, Mitroglou, Pantelic
Unfortunately I will be away in Greece for the next week and a bit, so there will be no reports for the Panthrax and Atromitos games.
I will however try to write some small updates on our facebook page and should be back in England before the game against Arsenal.
As you may already know, we have been drawn in the Champions League group stages with Arsenal, Schalke and Montpellier. This perhaps is not the worst draw that we could have had but all of the opponents will be a tough test for us. Arsenal are weaker than they were last year but still have a very formidable team and will be able to put a squad onto the pitch worth over €100 million easily. Players like Podolsky may cause us a problem but we came close to getting 4 points against them last season and 3 back in 2009 when we played them before. We should aim for 4 points from this team but perhaps 3 is more likely.
Schalke were very up and down last year but managed to qualify for the Champions League by scraping third in the Bundesliga. We have done well against German opposition in the past, thrashing Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund in recent years and I'm pretty hopeful about this tie. They do have a powerful squad but I think we should be able to get two good results against this team.
Our final opponent, Montpellier are very much an unknown quantity for me. I haven't seen them in action too often although I know that they did win Ligue 1 with Oliver Giroud being their top scorer (and subsequently sold to Arsenal). Our record against French teams is not very good unfortunately and they play at an even faster rate than the English league. We may have some trouble with Montpellier but nothing is for certain until we play them I guess.
In all, I'm very confident that we will at least finish in third place. Whether we can finish in second place will be dependant on our ability to eke out points away from home.