Tonights game came from the red-hot atmosphere of a packed Giorgos Karaiskaki stadium. Olympiakos faced the impressive Olympique Marseille in the first matchday of the Champions League. The stadium was absolutely packed out for tonights game and everyone anticipated a fine match and probably more importantly, a win to start our campaign with a bang. Our team lined up in the standard 4-2-3-1 formation with Costanzo, Torosidis, Mellberg, Papadopoulos, Holebas, Modesto, Fejsa, Abdoun, Yeste, Fuster and Mirallas making up the team on the pitch. This was our first competitive match for 5 months but we hoped that the team would be able to win the game comfortably tonight.
As for the match itself, we kicked off the game but it was Marseille who won the first chance of the night with a corner and a header (over) on goal in the first two minutes. In reply, we had two chances from free kicks early on but neither was even close to a chance. We did get the ball in an around the French box on a few occasions but there was nothing of any real note. For the first ten minutes of the game, we were in good control of the game but unable to convert some reasonable play into proper scoring chances.
The next few minutes saw Yeste take a knock to the head and Marseille having some possession of the ball but nothing which was particularly threatening. We managed to counter the ball up the field and get a shot on goal courtesy of Mirallas but it was easily saved. Mirallas had another chance on goal from a sidepass in the box but managed to miss from close range. When Marseille did manage to get chances away on goal, they were either from long range or our defence managed to intercept the pass/shot.
Marseille were getting more control of the ball as the half went on but for the time, our defence was holding out and performing very well at closing down their forwards. We were stick getting forward whenever we had chance and Mirallas was still proving to be a threat up front even though his shots were being made from distance at the time. The French also had some chances on goal but luckily for us they were not on target. We had yet another chance at the Marseille end, Mirallas again from the edge of the area with a powerful shot which was unfortunately directly into the goalkeepers hands.
So as the first half drew to a close, it was fair to say that the French had more chances on goal than us but also their efforts were largely weak efforts with only the odd dangerous play. To say that this was our first competitive match in 149 days and only our second match in 23 days, we could be happy with our first half display. Back to the game though and the 45 minute mark saw another free kick to the French and another counter attack by ourselves which ended in a free kick of our own on the edge of the area. The kick was unfortunately saved and proved to be the last act of the first half. 0-0 at halftime!!
The second half was started off by Marseille this time although we again took control of the ball and sent it into their box only to see our players crowded out and unable to get any chances away. We followed this up by trying to get the ball down the flanks but again we got so far down the pitch before losing possession and letting the French gain the ball. Unfortunately Marseille manage to open the scoring with a close range shot in the 51st minute from Lucho Gonzalez and we found ourselves behind in the match. This was somewhat unfair for us but we had to bounce back quickly. Unfortunately we didn't close down the player and we were punished for a lapse in concentration.
To try and alter the game, Yeste was taken off for Djebbour and it was hoped that this change would give us some impetus. We still found that Marseille were coming forward though and had another chance from a free kick. We weren't impotent though and were still pressing for an equaliser, getting the ball up the pitch and around their box whenever possible. To help the team regain control of the game, we made two substitutions in the 67th minute, Jean Makoun and Ariel Ibagasa coming on for Fuster and Fejsa. Marseille started to fall back now to protect their lead.
As the game started to move into the final phase, we won a free kick on the edge of the area after Morel fouled Modesto. The shot rocketed against the wall and out, winning us a corner which we couldn't convert. After more midfield play, Djebbour had a magnificent chance to equalise after Torosidis crossed into the box for him. Djebbour went for the touch when perhaps he should have tried the header and scuffed it over the bar. More attacks for us followed with the French now counter-attacking but we just couldn't get that ball on target.
During the last minutes of normal time, we throw more attacks forward but it doesn't look like we will get anything from the match. Our players are looking like they are running out of steam and our lack of match fitness is starting to show. We kept going forward but it was going to take something special to get anything from this match now. We have another chance from a corner but again can't get anything from the situation. Just at the stroke of 90 minutes, Fanni is sent off for a dangerous challenge and gives us a chance on goal from a free kick but find the ball unfortunately being cleared and we miss out again. The game finishes after 4 minutes of extra time and desperate clearances from Marseille.
It was a very disappointing result but it was a result that we didn't really deserve. We made one mistake in the match and got punished for it whilst at the other end, we just had some atrocious luck...
Olympiakos 0-1 Marseille
Olympiakos :- Costanzo, Torosidis, Mellberg, Papadopoulos, Holebas, Modesto, Fejsa (67' Makoun), Abdoun, Yeste (55' Djebbour), Fuster (67' Ibagasa), Mirallas