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!)
Vasillis Torosidis has left Olympiakos and joined Roma in a deal worth only half a million euros to our club. Torosidis had decided to leave the club recently and try his luck abroad after refusing to sign a new contract with the club.
The small amount for our captain is all we could manage after facing the possibility of the player leaving on a Bosman move in the summer.
A final announcement from the weekend. Olympiakos FC have announced that our Captain, Vasilis Torosidis, will not be renewing his contract with the club. After six years with the club, he has decided to move abroad to continue his career overseas.
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)
The team departing to Germany was announced earlier this morning. 19 players in total make the journey and these will consist of :-
Siovas, Holebas, Manolas, Torosidis, Modesto, Maniatis, Contreras
Greco, Ibagasa, Fuster, Fejsa, Abdoun, Machado, Diakite
Djebbour, Pantelic, Mitroglou
The absentees (for one reason or another) include Papazoglou, Zaradoukas, Tatos, Vlachodimos and Fetfatzidis.
Giannis Fetfatzidis has renewed his contract with our team keeping him at Olympiakos until June 2016. We wanted to keep the player at the club and so offered him a four year contract which the young international was keen to sign.
More renewals may occur over the coming weeks with Holebas and Djebbour being near to the top of the list.
We won our Polo game tonight against our brothers Crvena Zvezda by a 9-8 scoreline. Fans of both sides were in attendance to view the game and the atmosphere was generally good throughout the match. We won all but one of the sets and the final scores were :-
1st Set : Olympiakos 2-2 Crvena Zvezda
2nd Set : Olympiakos 3-2 Crvena Zvezda
3rd Set : Olympiakos 2-1 Crvena Zvezda
4th Set : Olympiakos 2-3 Crvena Zvezda
I woke today in Singapore to the happy news that we had beaten the French by 3 goals to 1 in last nights Champions League match. Regards to my friend who texted me the result and I dedicate the picture of her G7 club to her. I will be back for the AEK game so normal service returns then...
Olympiacos scorers get just desserts
Goalscorers Paulo Machado and Leandro Greco gave Olympiacos FC credit for accomplishing their mission to beat Montpellier SC 3-1, with the exit beckoning for the French side.
Paulo Machado was voted UEFA.com Player Rater winner and was beaming after Olympiacos FC's 3-1 win against Montpellier Hérault SC "because we did everything we had to do". As for Montpellier, penalty-scorer Younes Belhanda was left to rue the errors that led to Olympiacos's victory in Piraeus, acknowledging "the first mistake was mine".
Paulo Machado, Olympiacos midfielder
I am very satisfied because, first of all, we deserved to win. We did everything we had to. This victory was a must if we were to entertain a realistic hope of making it to the next round – and we did it. The match was a bit complicated – Saturday's league encounter was very intense and tonight we were a bit tired. Since joining Olympiacos, I have had chances to score but I didn't convert them. Now I am off the mark and I want to make the most of this momentum. After the two victories over Montpellier we intend to go to Schalke to get at least a point, and then defeat Arsenal here.
Leandro Greco, Olympiacos midfielder
I am very happy with everything today, because we won a very important match and because I scored – so it is doubly satisfying for me. We played a complete match – we defended, attacked and fought together as a squad and in the end deserved the win. The main thing was to win today – now, we’ll see what we can achieve in the last two matches. One never knows what can happen in football. Of course, our aim is to qualify and to give it our all. As for me, the more I play, the better my physical condition is. I am satisfied with my game today, but even more happy with this important win.
Younes Belhanda, Montpellier midfielder
We are somewhat frustrated to lose this match, because we managed to equalise. Two small errors cost us. The first mistake was mine – I kicked the ball away but it went into the path of the guy that took the shot. Olympiacos's third goal was the end of us. It was very difficult afterwards to turn around a two-goal deficit. Now, the most important thing is to forget tonight's match and then focus on what we can do against Arsenal and Schalke. There is a very slim chance to qualify for the Europa League but, if that's not possible, we will concentrate on our league.
The Champions League is a competition for the big clubs. We are not quite ready for this kind of competition. Olympiacos are a big team and have proved themselves in the Europa League and Champions League. It's our first time – we are debutants facing big clubs.
Anthony Mounier, Montpellier forward
We came here in search of a positive result that could revive our qualification hopes, but we missed our chance and it's a pity that we couldn't do more. We conceded very early. We managed to create some chances but failed to make the most of them. We are just getting started in the Champions League and we have some young players. Olympiacos may not be among Europe's greats, but they are used to this competition – they know how to handle these matches, better than us for sure, as witnessed in both encounters.
In France, we conceded in the last minute, while today we managed to equalise but then conceded two goals, one immediately after the other – that hurt us. Now we must apply ourselves to the maximum. There is a slight chance to qualify for the Europa League if we win both our remaining matches. In football everything is possible, even if that is a tall order. And even if we go out, we want to leave the competition with our heads held high.
The team making the trip to France has been named. The players making the journey are :-
Goalkeepers (2) :
Defenders (6) :
Holebas, Manolas, Torosidis, Contreras, Modesto, Maniatis
Greco, Fuster, Fejsa, Abdoun, Lykogiannis, Machado, Diakite
Diogo, Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour
One player will need to be cut from the team before the match on Wednesday. Absentees include Fetfatzidis, Siovas, Zaradoukas, Vlachodimos and Ibagasa.
On Wednesday we have our third Champions League match, this time against Montpellier (away). We have fans travelling to the game from all over europe, road trips from Athens, Belgium and Germany will be making the journey whilst other groups will be flying to the game as well.
As for the game, we have a good chance to get a result here. If we can perform and grab the three points then we have a good chance to progress further in Europe. We then also have to get results at Montpellier at home along with Arsenal but a victory in France will set us up for advancing further.