We had our matchday 6 tie tonight with us playing Asteras Tripolis at home. Its been a couple of weeks since my last report due to holidays but I'm back and writing again. This is our last superleague game before we take a weeks break for international duties and we really want to grab a win here to make it 6 victories from 6 games so far.
Onto the game though and it was Tripolis doing the majority of the attacking in the opening minutes although their long ball methods was easily ran out of play. We also helped break up their momentum with smart counter attacks whenever possible. After the first ten minutes we were getting more possession of the ball and starting to apply some pressure on the Asteras goalmouth albeit without any success.
We were still fighting for control of the game after the first fifteen minutes and our efforts on goal were being matched by Tripolis at the other end of the pitch. Our best chance of the game so far coming in the 20th minute from a free kick just in front of the box which required the goalkeeper to intervene and push the ball over the net. A following opportunity was cleared off the Tripolis line so it looked like, slowly but surely, we were getting closer to goal.
We continued with the pressure on the Tripolis goalmouth throughout the half but were having trouble in breaking through their defensive line. Our best chances were still coming from dead ball situations and not open play. On the wings, Machado had not been performing well and Ibagaza was being closed down in the centre too often so the playmakers were being reduced to the two defensive midfielders and Abdoun (who was trying to dribble all too often).
However two minutes before the break we got the goal we had been waiting for. An indirect free kick gave us the chance to make a shot on goal and up came Holebas for the shot. He absolutely spanked the ball and shot it into the goal like a bullet to give us the lead at halftime. That shot has to be the goal of the week if not the month - an total cracker of a shot!
Early in the second half we made two changes to the lineup to allow for tactical changes and a couple of slight knocks that the players had picked up. The game however had reverted to what was seen for long stretches of the first half - a lot of possession and runs up the field but very little final chances in the Tripolis area. Asteras for their part were getting a little more adventurous as they needed to equalise but we were coping with their occasional forays into our half of the pitch.
During the second half of the match, Asteras started to control the possession more whilst we changed to counter attacking once again but we were still coping with closing down their attacks. The defensive style didn't meet with the crowds approval though and they voiced their discontent. Especially as we weren't showing any sort of domination on the field at the minute.
We had a couple of chances on goal in the final 15 minutes of the match but so did Tripolis with a header ricocheting off the post in the 82nd minute. The opposition had another direct chance on the 85th minute but luckily Carroll deflected the ball off his feet with a diving save. We managed to hold onto the lead for the rest of the game and the match finished after four minutes of extra time. The crowd rightly booed the performance (despite the win) at the final whistle.
Olympiakos 1-0 Asteras Tripolis
Olympiakos : Carroll, Modesto, Contreras, Manolas, Holebas (50' Torosidis), Maniatis, Siovas, Ibagaza (50' Fuster), Machado, Abdoun, Djebbour (83' Mitroglou)
After the mornings training session, Leonardo Jardim announced the 19 players selected for tomorrows match. The players making the list are :-
Siovas, Holebas, Manolas, Torosidis, Contreras
Greco, Tatos, Ibagasa, Fuster, Modesto, Maniatis, Fetfatzidis, Abdoun, Machado
Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour
Diakite, Diogo and Vlachodimos were not included whilst Papazoglou, Fejsa and Zaradoukas are not fit enough to take part in the game.
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.
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
Our team has been announced for the game against Schalke tomorrow. Most of the players who were held over from the weekend have been included in the squad and only Papazoglou and Diakite are absentees. The team announced is :-
Siovas, Holebas, Manolas, Torosidis, Contreras
Greco, Ibagasa, Fuster, Modesto, Maniatis, Fetfatzidis, Fejsa, Abdoun, Machado
Diogo, Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour
Two players will obviously be cut from the list of 20 in advance of the game tomorrow.
Today saw our matchday 3 game against PAS Giannena away in the Zosimadon stadium. Despite the refusal of PAS to allow our organised fans to attend and the poor weather of the last 24 hours, we were looking forward to a win in todays game.
We had rested a couple of players in advance of Tuesdays game against Schalke but the squad which we put out was more than capable of winning the game in style.
We started the match reasonably well winning the ball quickly in the middle of the pitch and getting the ball forward. PAS had some fight in their side and it took us a while to break them down. Eventually though the disparity in team quality started to show and we started to exert pressure on their goal.
After the opening quarter hour, PAS were being pushed firmly into their own box and we were making opportunities from all over the pitch with the midfield being especially flamboyant in their creativity. The Epiriots on the other hand seemed to have no tactics apart from tackling as hard as they could and trying to injure our players.
Siovas had probably the best chance to score in the opening half when a free kick was delivered into the box from Machado. He rose and managed to get his head onto the ball only to head his effort wide of net. A couple of minutes later, Manolas had a similar opportunity, headed the ball against the post and allowed the keeper to recover. In a rare counter attack PAS almost scored when their player beat two defenders and our keeper only to hit the post and have the ball bounce out of play.
We had a flurry of chances at the start of the second half but failed to capitalise on any of them. Our lack of success in opening the score forced Jardim to make an alteration to the system, putting Mitroglou onto the pitch and changing to a 4-4-2 formation. The payoff for this move came just two minutes later when the substitute opened the scoring.
One of the PAS defenders was caught in possession on the edge of the box by Abdoun who quickly took the ball off the player. A quick pass forward found Djebbour, who selflessly passed across the face of goal to Mitroglou allowing him to administer a tap into the net at the far side of the goalmouth.
A solo effort from Djebbour doubled the scoreline in the 67th minute. From midfield, a simple long pass into the box found the Algerian with perfect accuracy and he simply controlled the ball then put it into the net. Georgiou replied for PAS just a minute later after beating both Siovas and Carroll in an awful display of defending from our players.
As the game moved into the final stages we continued to attack the PAS goal but also had to be wary as they came forward to grab an equalising goal. For maybe five minutes before the end of the game we had to defend in numbers to avoid any breakthoughs from the opposition. Luckily we managed to avoid conceding any late goals (despite a very late scare) and so the game ended 2-1 in our favour.
In summary it was a nice game from our players for the majority but the fragility of our defence became pretty evident. It is worrying to be going into an european campaign with our defence being exposed at times by a team like Giannena (and Roy Carroll's charges from the goalline). Still we justabout earned the three points today and can move onto the game against Schalke.
PAS Giannena 1-2 Olympiakos
Olympiakos : Carroll, Papazoglou, Manolas, Siovas, Holebas, Modesto, Ibagasa, Greco (58' Mitroglou), Abdoun (73' Fuster), Machado, Djebbour (85' Fejsa)