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)
Our ladies won their first friendly game of the new season, pumping Markopoulo by 4 sets to nil. The sets were won by the scorelines of 27-25, 25-15, 25-5 and 25-19.
We won our friendly game this evening against CSKA Moscow in Cagliari by a 83-76 scoreline. We had an excellent defence and presented a very creative attack. Spanoulis was the scorer with 19 points, followed by Antic with 12 and Hynes with 11. CSKA were missing three ex-Olympiakos players in Krstic, Teodosic and Erceg.
Olympiakos complete their participation in the Cagliari tournament on Saturday with a final game against Siena (21:45).
1st Quarter : Olympiakos 28-19 CSKA Moscow
2nd Quarter : Olympiakos 40-37 CSKA Moscow
3rd Quarter : Olympiakos 66-60 CSKA Moscow
4th Quarter : Olympiakos 83-76 CSKA Moscow
Olympiakos : Hynes 11, Antic 12, Spanoulis 19, Perperoglou 6, Dorsey 8, Sloukas 4, Mavroeidis, Gecevicius 8, Printezis 8, Papanikolaou 7, Mantzaris, Katsivelis.
After completing training this morning, Leonardo Jardim announced the team making the trip to Epirus for our game against PAS Giannena. The team announced is.....
Siovas, Holebas, Manolas, Papazoglou, Torosidis
Greco, Ibagasa, Modesto, Fuster, Fetfatzidis, Fejsa, Abdoun, Machado
Diogo(!!), Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour.
Notable absentees include Diakite wasn't ready in time whilst Contreras and Maniatis are being held back so that they are fully ready for the Schalke game.
Next week we begin our campaign in the most overrated competition ever, the Champions League. I know that many will not agree with me but I find this the most rigged, biased and boring competition ever. Let me explain....
Firstly it is rigged especially with the initial draw - country protection, byes and team seeding ensure that the four teams from England, Spain and Italy will make up the majority of the top two places in each group draw. The system is set up so that the numbers of teams from smaller countries are slashed in half before the group stage itself when the teams from the big 5 countries even enter.
The competition is boring, far more boring than the previous European cup. Does anyone truly doubt that the last 16 teams in the competition will be the 3-4 teams from England, 3-4 from Spain, 3-4 from Italy, 2-3 from Germany and 1-2 from France with only 1 or 2 places being made for the teams from the rest of Europe (ourselves included). Its the same every year and has been the same for the past 15 years at least.
It's no surprise that the majority of the money goes to teams in the last 16 stages and onwards. The money goes to the richest clubs and everyone else has to make do with the scraps. The big teams can then buy their way into the competition next year and repeat ad infinitum.
The only way that this competition could improve would be to set all countries to have the same amount of teams with no seeding, byes or country protection. However both UEFA and the big teams (which basically run the organisation) would ever want such a level playing field (ignore the pun) and so the biased and rigged system remains.
Even when a team plays well, the larger teams are pushed by the organisation. All too often I have seen our goals be ruled offside and perhaps too often to be ignored. I don't think I need to remind the readers of Okkas in Monaco, Derbyshire against Bordeaux, both games against Lazio where their offside goals remained on the scoresheet but our legimate goals were disallowed. Probably the most blatant push by the referees was the home game against Newcastle which has to go down in history for the worst corruption ever seen by the officials in one of our matches.
However even if the system was altered, the problem would still remain as the competition would still be one-sided simply through the money which has been accumulated for the big clubs over 10 or 20 years (or where some rich Arab/Russian has simply bought a team and bought all the best players). All of the best players are in just 5 leagues now - about 20 years ago were spread throughout Europe at different clubs so this allowed the likes of Zvezda to win the competition back in the early nineties. This would never happen nowadays.
Even the most ardent supporter of the Champions League would agree that the current format wasn't brought in to improve competition. It was introduced as :-
However these changes only benefitted the greedy few who were lucky enough to be successful in either Spain, Italy or England. The rules were altered in their favour to keep them at the top of the competitions
Wow, now thats a rant and a rambling one too. Anyway to sum up, the Champions League can go kiss my backside and I'd much rather watch the Superleague any day of the week. I'll support our team in Europe of course but I'd be happier with the domestic titles instead.
Fuck Modern Football.