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.
After I've been rushing everywhere for the last few weeks I can finally sit down and relax in the run up to Christmas.
Anyway, yesterday it was announced that Jose Holebas has extended his contract with the club until 2016. This is good news all round. Holebas has been one of the few players to excel this season and has dragged the team forward whenever possible. Sure, he has had some bad games too but his good performances have far outweighed the bad.
With him remaining at the club for the foreseeable future we now have one position at the club tied down and can now concentrate elsewhere.
Djebbour is also expected to be renewing his contract imminently and again this is good news as both him and Abdoun have been the main focus of all our attacks this year. He is also leading the scoring charts at the minute and seems to be a very good bet to end the season as the top Superleague striker.
Unfortunately talks with Torosidis are still ongoing. Torosidis hasn't been outstanding this season so far - he's been ok and putting in some adequate performances but nothing amazing. There are a number of rumours flying around regarding transfers to Italy and I guess we will have to wait until January to see what transpires.
Tonights match came from the half-filled Vazelo bourdello where we faced the whores of Greece and perpetual whipping boys of Europe, Panathinaikos.
Our green brothers, fresh from another outstanding campaign which has seen them eliminated from Europe before Christmas (and saw such notable results such as a 3-0 thrashing by Maribor) needed a win against us to stop their pouting fans from crying further, whilst a win for us would see us virtually guaranteed the title.
The early part of the game was not too pretty from our view and we ended up conceding a cheap goal in the seventeenth minute before a close range equaliser four minutes later courtesy of Djebbour silenced the crowd. We should have killed the game off with the chances we had in the first half but we had to settle for taking the lead a little later than we wanted with a second goal from Djebbour in the 34th minute. Despite our advantage we could still afford to play a lot better in the game and improve for the second half, however we led at half time through a single goal.
The second half was probably even worse for us - our play was poor and we were not as aggressive as previous games. The result of this was that we were pushed onto the defensive and tended to surrender possession of the ball - Poutanas Gios took advantage of this to flop all over the pitch under the slightest contact. Some atrocious defending on our part (again) allowed them to equalise in the 67th minute and we were then chasing the winner.
Fuster had two direct chances on goal but the poor sod couldn't even score in a brothel this season and so our few chances came and went. We were also getting caught offside too often and our overall play was just sloppy - only Djebbour and Abdoun seemed to be dragging the team forward. Three fairly poor substitutions later and the game finally finished with a 2-2 scoreline. Very disappointing to not win the game but the performance was fucking dreadful.
Olympiakos 2-2 Poutanas Gios
Olympiakos : Carroll, Torosidis, Manolas, Siovas (90' Contreras), Holebas, Modesto (76' Greco), Maniatis, Ibagaza (62' Machado), Fuster, Abdoun, Djebbour
I apologise for the lack of action in the blog for the last weekend and yesterdays match. I snuck over to Greece at the weekend for my final visit to Karaiskaki this year and that tied me down from Friday to Sunday. Then as soon as I returned I had to go on a business trip. However normal service has returned and so I can look forward to fucking the Vazelos this Sunday.
We travelled North to the bourdello of Toumba for todays game against the Bulgarians of PAOK. As it promised, it was a lively match with us working hard to control possession and also chase the ball when we had to. Eventually our hard work and persistance broke down the Voulgaroi defence and it was Djebbour with a cannon of a shot who opened the scoring. Djebbour's goal marked his 9th in 8 matches and possibly the best of those 9 scored so far. An absolutely superb shot to put the filth chasing the game and shut up the catamites in the stadium.
We should have increased our lead during the second half but profligacy from Machado wasted a couple of chances whilst Fuster had a good shot on goal but found his effort and a little more power would have probably doubled the scoreline. Fuster had another superb chance to score later in the match but managed, inexplicably, to fire his shot wide of goal. The Voulgaroi managed to steal a draw right at the end of the game following three fairly insipid substitutions which failed to address any shortcomings in the teams play and removed any sort of attacking flair.
Rubbish performances from Machado and Fuster which unfortunately were never addressed, poor also from Modesto and Torosidis - However a good performance from Djebbour who scored the goal.
Voulgaroi 1-1 Olympiakos
Olympiakos : Carroll, Torosidis, Manolas, Siovas, Holebas, Maniatis, Modesto (77' Fejsa), Machado, Fuster, Abdoun (87' Greco), Djebbour (71' Mitroglou).
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.
We started the match off, taking control of the game straight away. Despite our advantages though, we looked rather complacent in the build up play and only really sprang into life when getting the ball forward close to the Kerkyra area. We did make some attempts on goal during the opening phase of the game but nothing of any real note.
Slowly but surely though we started to make our advantage count and make some penetrative runs on the Kerkyra goalmouth. We got the opening goal in the 23rd minute with a header from point blank range delivered by Mitroglou after Diakite provided the assist with a cross from the right hand side. This chance was followed a few minutes later by an overhead bicycle kick from Abdoun which had to be cleared off the line.
The remainder of the half saw more of the same, Kerkyra were truly awful and so the ball more or less stayed in constant location of the Kerkyra area. The only things to note just before the break were a denied penalty shout when Mitroglou was dragged down in the box and a sloppy display of defending from Papazoglou which briefly allowed Kerkyra to threaten our goal.
As it was though, we left the field at half time with a single goal lead but enjoying 69% possession and nine chances on goal to Kerkyra's one.
Kerkyra start to come out of their half in the second half after they discovered that their tactic of staying on the defensive AFTER conceding wasn't working too well. This however allowed us to make more attempts on their goal and the result was Siovas scoring the second goal of the game with a header.
The game was more or less dead now although Kerkyra did have one of their few chances to score a consolation goal (which they dragged wide of goal). We kept control of the game though and the result was a fine win. We were almost always in control of the game and Kerkyra were very much outplayed. The next game will be against Schalke so it is good that this has been an easy game for us.
Olympiakos 2-0 Kerkyra
Olympiakos :- Carroll, Diakite, Papazoglou, Siovas, Holebas, Modesto (70' Fejsa), Greco, Ibagasa (80' Zaradoukas), Abdoun, Fuster, Mitroglou (73' Djebbour)
The team for tomorrows match against Kerkyra has been announced. A couple of players (Torosidis, Manolas and Fetfatzidis) have not been included but this is possible becuase the team is also getting prepared for our trip to Germany early next week.
The team for tomorrow consists of...
Siovas, Zaradoukas, Holebas, Papazoglou, Modesto, Maniatis, Contreras
Greco, Ibagasa, Fuster, Fejsa, Abdoun, Vlachodimos, Machado, Diakite
Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour
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.