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.
Olympiakos Programme - September/October
Wednesday 12th September
Sassari - Olympiakos
Basketball Friendly Match
Friday 14th September to Saturday 15th September
Saturday 15th September (7.30pm)
PAS Giannena - Olympiakos
Tuesday 18th September (9.45pm)
Olympiakos - Schalke
Friday 21st September to Sunday 23rd September
Sunday 23rd September
Olympiakos - Panthrakikos
Saturday 29th September
Olympiakos - Lokomotiv Moscow
Alexander Gomelski Tournament (Basketball)
Sunday 30th September
Olympiakos - CSKA Moscow OR Olympiakos - Zalgiris
Alexander Gomelski Tournament (Basketball)
Wednesday 3rd October (9.45pm)
Arsenal - Olympiakos
Sunday 7th October
Olympiakos - AEK
Super Cup (Womens Volleyball)
Thursday 11th October (9.00pm)
Olympiakos - Caja Laboral
Friday 19th October (8.00pm)
Efes Pilsen - Olympiakos
Wednesday 24th October (9.45pm)
Montpellier - Olympiakos
Late last night the club announced the last move of the summer. We have signed Drissa Diakite who was formerly out of contract on a 1 +1 year deal. The move was confirmed by the club just after 10pm and before the registration deadline.
We had our first home match of the season tonight with our opponents being Levadiakos. Due to injury, Papazoglou came in for Contreras but apart from that it was almost the same lineup that we had utilised in last weeks match in Veroia. Perhaps we would see a better performance though as the team gets more used to the system. A minutes silence was held before the game kicked off and then it was into the match proper.
The match was not even 5 minutes old when we managed to score the opener from an indirect free kick delivered from just outside the box. The ball was shot at the wall itself but was low enough and had enough power to get through the defenders to where Siovas was waiting at the far side. A simple flick from him and the keeper was beaten, the result was our first goal at Karaiskaki for this season. The game continued with ourselves performing much of the attacking although Levadiakos also came forward on occasion.
After the first fifteen minutes Levadiakos started to pick themselves up and began to make more forays into our half. We usually broke these attacks up easily and then countered with runs of our own but it was also disconcerting to see a team like Levadiakos getting forward and controlling the centre of the pitch. We eventually took over once again in the midfield and made a corner or two but without any more success on goal.
Towards the end of the first half, Levadiakos once again made an effort to come forward en-masse and this caused us some defensive problems for a few minutes. We recovered though without allowing them to create any chances and went on the attack ourselves, scoring our second goal of the game. This came after a free kick was drifted into the box and the keeper caught it, dropped it and whilst the Levadiakos players protested and thought the keeper had been impeded, Djebbour shot into the goal. We finished off the first period making more attacks on the Levadia goal albeit unsuccessfully.
So at the end of the first half we have two goals but our play has not been overly great. We gave away possession in the middle of the pitch too easily and we seem to sit back further up the field than we did last year. This limits us when we counter attack to only using the two wingers and the striker and I'd prefer for the midfield to be a little more involved in building the attacks. Still despite our indifferent play we are two goals to the good.
The second half saw us continuing with our attacking play and almost got lucky in the 54th minute when Djebbour managed to dribble into the area. He was tackled however before he could fire the ball on target and score his second goal of the night. It was almost all one-way traffic in the fifteen minutes following the restart, Levadiakos only made one limp attack and we soon dealt with that. To round off this peiod of play, Djebbour got into the box once again and this time had his shot on goal blocked by the Levadia defence.
Our third goal of the night was scored on the 63rd minute with Maniatis getting on the scoresheet. This time the call was passed into the box from the left hand side by Abdoun, Maniatis was at the near side post in a good enough position to slide the ball into the net. Levadiakos came forward once more but we managed to easily break down their attacks. Djebbour, Abdoun and Machado managed to break through the opposition defence entirely but then spoiled their own chance when Djebbour inexplicably passed the ball forward to Abdoun and lose the ball through offside.
We scored the fourth goal in the 74th minute after another Abdoun and Djebbour breakaway (Abdoun should have been flagged offside for the initial pass to him) and Djebbour was on hand to put the finishing touches to a very fast break after Abdoun had confounded the keeper. Another good set of attacks just minutes later threatened to give us another goal but Levadiakos managed to recover and clear the ball from their box. We continued to pressurise around the opposition goalmouth and managed to give Levadiakos some real problems for their defence - they had to really struggle to get the all away on occasion. The game ended after just two minutes of extra time and we had managed to notch up another win.
In summary, the second half was so much better than the first. We played with a much higher line and the result was that we hald onto the ball for longer periods and also managed to control the midfield effectively. Abdoun was also much better in the second half and notched up two assists for his troubles. We now move onto PAS Giannena away for next weekends match.
Olympiakos 4-0 Levadiakos
Olympiakos : Carroll, Torosidis, Siovas, Papazoglou, Holebas, Maniatis, Modesto, Ibagasa (73' Fuster), Abdoun (80' Fetfatzidis), Machado, Djebbour (85' Pantelic)
A team of 19 players has been announced ahead of tomorrows match against Levadiakos. Absentees from the list are Andreas Tatos and Panagiotis Vlachodimos whilst Diogo is also sidelined. Contreras and Papadopoulos are injured so it looks like a combination of Siovas - Papazoglou or more likely Siovas - Manolas will start the match in central defence.
The announced players are :-
Goalkeepers (2) :-
Defenders (5) :-
Siovas, Holebas, Papazoglou, Manolas, Torosidis
Midfielders (9) :-
Greco, Ibagasa, Fuster, Modesto, Maniatis, Fetfatzidis, Fejsa, Abdoun, Machado
Attackers (3) :-
Mitroglou, Pantelic, Djebbour
As you may already know, we have been drawn in the Champions League group stages with Arsenal, Schalke and Montpellier. This perhaps is not the worst draw that we could have had but all of the opponents will be a tough test for us. Arsenal are weaker than they were last year but still have a very formidable team and will be able to put a squad onto the pitch worth over €100 million easily. Players like Podolsky may cause us a problem but we came close to getting 4 points against them last season and 3 back in 2009 when we played them before. We should aim for 4 points from this team but perhaps 3 is more likely.
Schalke were very up and down last year but managed to qualify for the Champions League by scraping third in the Bundesliga. We have done well against German opposition in the past, thrashing Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund in recent years and I'm pretty hopeful about this tie. They do have a powerful squad but I think we should be able to get two good results against this team.
Our final opponent, Montpellier are very much an unknown quantity for me. I haven't seen them in action too often although I know that they did win Ligue 1 with Oliver Giroud being their top scorer (and subsequently sold to Arsenal). Our record against French teams is not very good unfortunately and they play at an even faster rate than the English league. We may have some trouble with Montpellier but nothing is for certain until we play them I guess.
In all, I'm very confident that we will at least finish in third place. Whether we can finish in second place will be dependant on our ability to eke out points away from home.