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
Matchday 1 of our champions league campaign saw us face Schalke in the Karaiskaki stadium. The atmosphere was electric as we faced off against the Germans and when the teams came onto the pitch the coreos were displayed over both ends and we got ready to meet our destiny in the group.
After a nervy few minutes we made our first chances on goal with a chipped shot from Machado, cleared from the line and a follow up into the side of the net. After these opening shots we slipped back and kept the ball in possession. Schalke came forward on a couple of occasions but without any real success and we closed them down easily enough.
Further attempts on goal included a free kick from Holebas and a header from Djebbour which went the wrong side of goal. The Germans had their own chances with the ball but apart from possessing the ball, there was little in the way of chances from them. When it came to the defence we were still holding our own and restricting the Schalke chances on goal.
The very cagey style of play continued from both sides as the game progressed towards the halftime break with both sides struggling to get chances on goal. Schalke did manage to get the ball into the net but only by infringing Megyeri and their effort was instantly ruled out by the referees. Unfortunately it was the Germans who managed to score first when Howedes headed into the net following a corner and so we ended the half trailing in the scoreline.
Following the restart we had real trouble getting the ball out of our half and almost conceded again in the 52nd minute when Megyeri spilled a shot on the line. Luckily the Schalke player going for the follow up scooped the ball over, sparing our blushes. We eventually got ourselves sorted and get forward before finally Abdoun had his chance scraped off the line. Abdoun was not to be denied however and managed to get the ball into the net a minute later to equalise the scoreline.
Immediately after the game was restarted Schalke scored again after our defence was found lacking and straight afterwards they were gifted a penalty when Manolas tripped one of their players in the box. Luckily they shot the penalty against the post and we escaped for the minute. It wasn't all one way traffic and we got forward again allowing Ibagasa to make a shot on goal.
Our final two changes of the match gave us more of an attacking flair but although we were getting further up the pitch we were having trouble in creating chances on goal. We were also suffering from some of the challenges coming our way and Holebas in particular had to leave the field for a while to recover from some of the tackles.
As the game came to a close we couldn't manage to make any effective headway up the pitch and were being forced onto the defensive too often to make any decent chances on goal. Djebbour did have a final solo run on goal from the corner flag but this was the final act of the game. We ended up losing the match and the crowd sounded its annoyance as the game ended.
Olympiakos 1-2 Schalke
Olympiakos : Megyeri, Torosidis, Contreras, Manolas, Holebas, Maniatis, Modesto (68' Greco), Machado, Abdoun (68' Mitroglou), Fuster (56' Ibagasa), Djebbour
We have just over one month to go until the draw of the Champions League proper and we will be entering the group phase of the Champions League directly as a result of winning the league last year. Of the potential teams that we could be playing, a lot of the opponents have already been worked out although there is still some room for alterations.
There will still be some additions and changes to be made due to the champions and non-champions routes into the group stages but this is what one site has come up with as the potential pots for the draw :-
FC Barcelona (Esp)
Manchester United (Eng)
Bayern München (Ger)
Real Madrid (Esp)
FC Porto (Por)
AC Milan (Ita)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr)
Zenit St. Petersburg (Rus)
Schalke 04 (Ger)
Manchester City (Eng)
Sporting Braga (Por)
Dinamo Kiev (Ukr)
Olympiakos Piraeus (Gre)
FC Basel (Sui)
Poutanas Gios (Gre)
FC København (Den)
Spartak Moscow (Rus)
Paris Saint-Germain (Fra)
Borussia Dortmund (Ger)
BATE Borisov (Bls)
FC Salzburg (Aut)
FC Nordsjælland (Den)
ps. There is no way that Poutanas Gios will qualify for the Champions League so as I mentioned before, there will be some changes to this list over the next month.
We have a manager! Leonardo Jardim was confirmed by the club earlier this afternoon as our manager for the next two years. Jardim's previous managerial experience where he performed well at FC Braga with a minimal budget and set up an attacking playing style with the club.
The message from the club simply stated, 'Olympiakos FC announced the partnership with coach Leonardo Jardim for the next two years'.
Olympiakos are now the champions of Greece and Europe after beating the Vazeloi 82-76 in the fifth and final match of the finals. This marks a tremendous year for Olympiakos in basketball and the players utilised today should become the backbone of the team for years to come.
The game itself started through Mantzaris, Spanoulis, Keselj, Antic and Dorsey and although we initially fell behind in the quarter, we stabilised and took the lead. Spanoulis and Dorsey were the two main components of this early lead and along with Printezis ensured that we won the first period by 24 points to 20.
The second quarter saw us start in the best way with us going 10 points clear and keeping this score differential for a few minutes before going even further and pushing 12 points in front. Once we had reached 12 points clear we kept this points difference all the way until the halftime buzzer.
The second half saw us relax a little and let the Lagoi back into the match (48-43) but we managed to recover through Sloukas and then keep an eight point differential for a few minutes. This was then followed by Printezis, Spanoulis and Papanikolaou getting some important baskets which were not answered. The last shot of the quarter was done by Spanoulis to make the score 14 points in front and lead 70-56 in preparation for the final push.
The fourth and final quarter begins and everything which could have gone wrong, does do. We make five fouls in just over a minute and Hynes is removed. We recover through Spanoulis, but the lead is cut to 9 points and we have made several mistakes during the quarter. At this stage though Printezis, Spanoulis and Papanikolaou manage to score enough points to finish the game and with it, finish the A1 championship and win the title.
The scores were :-
1st Quarter : Olympiakos 24-20 Poutanas Gios
2nd Quarter : Olympiakos 48-36 Poutanas Gios
3rd Quarter : Olympiakos 70-56 Poutanas Gios
4th Quarter : Olympiakos 82-76 Poutanas Gios