Todays game comes from the Panthessalaiko stadium where we will be facing a very competant Olympiakos Volou team. Volou have been playing well all season and although we won the home leg of this tie comfortably enough, the away leg will obviously be a different beast altogether. We have purchased and sold all 6,200 tickets which were available prior to the match and the stadium itself seems packed to the rafters as the teams walk out on the pitch. We are wearing the all blue kits today whilst Volou will be wearing the traditional 'erythroleukos' kit, the stadiums are vibrating under the force of the fans as the whistle goes to start the game...
The opening minutes of the match are rather tight with both sides rushing to get control of the ball. One side will attack before losing out on the ball and allowing the other side to try their chances on goal. This style of play continues for the first ten minutes of the game with neither side able to make much progress in the game although Volou possibly have had the better chances with the ball so far. Our defence however has started off the game well and we seem to be building our plays from the back allowing the defence to be the basis of our gameplay. We do have a single chance on goal in the first fifteen minutes thanks to a free kick from outside the area but this is all we can manage in the early stages.
Despite not really having control of the game yet, we do manage to grab the opening goal when a break allows Riera to get into the left hand side of the box, pass right past the waiting defenders to Mirallas who had been left unmarked on the edge of the box. It is a simple job for Fuster to knock the ball into the net and past the keeper. Volou now restart the game but apart from a quick attack of their own, they concede control of the ball and allow us to attack them again, this time resulting in a corner.
After the goal, we seem to have taken control of the game and we are now performing most of the attacking in the game whilst Volou seem content to defend and try to avoid a second goal. We make some smooth attacks during this time but we cannot manage to get the final ball to Pantelic or make the shot on goal yet.
As we continue to attack, Volou do manage to grab a couple of counter attacks for themselves and manage to threaten our goal through free kicks and the odd fast attack. So far however, our defence has been capable of withstanding anything that they throw at us though. Volou do a large amount of attacking in this phase although we do manage to force a corner through our own counter attack. It must be admitted though that Volou are controlling the possession and the amount of attacks even though our defence is standing firm. Their best chance so far comes from a header on goal from breska which Pardo has to dive in order to effectively save.
Volou continue to attack and grab the equaliser whilst we still defend hard. It is annoying to see that although we have five players in midfield, we are not controlling possession and we are coming off second best in the midfield itself. A free kick from the left gives us a glimmer of hope at grabbing a second goal but we waste our chances and head the delivered cross over the net.
In another (worringly good) attack, Volou player Solakis gets close to heading the ball into our net but luckily is confounded by Pardo's energetic save. This proves to be the last play of the half though which ends after one minute of extra time and provides us with the chance to sort ourselves out for the second half.
The second half starts off reasonably well for us. We look a lot better in control of the ball and it isn't long before we manage to win a free kick on the edge of the area through a foul made on Pantelic (although we cannot convert the free kick into a goal and only win a corner from it). This is followed up with a short range shot on goal from Riera (which also results in a corner). We continue with the attacking play with a marked difference to the end of the first half, we now look in control of the game and we are showing this in the amount of chances we are creating around their goalmouth. We come extemely close to scoring a second goal from Fuster after he manages to break through their defence skillfully but his resulting shot in lobbing the keeper is just wide of the net.
Our first substitution is made in the 61st minute with Djebbour making his Olympiakos debut for Marko Pantelic. Pantelic although he had performed reasonably today had never really shone on the field and this will be interesting, even if it is just to see how Djebbour can play. Our attacking play continues with both Riera and Mirallas snapping shots away at the Volou goal but without success. In a rare counterattack, Volou get a shot away on our goal but find it wide.
We win a free kick right on the edge of the area in the 67th minute after Djebbour is fouled and this gives us a golden chance to score. However the kick is taken far too soft and the lob easily intercepted and cleared. Apart from this though, we are in full control of the game and making attack after attack. Some care is evidently needed though as we find the ball intercepted or desperately cleared by Volou just too often for my own liking. We now prepare our second substitution of the game with Zairi coming on for Mirallas.
We are now in the last fifteen minutes of the match and continuing with the attacking play. Unfortunately our lack of concentration when it comes to the final pass is still evident and we end up losing more goalscoring chances through our own poor passing when we've done the hard part of breaking into the box. Our final substitution is now made with Albert Riera coming off for Jose Holebas, it looks like Riera may have picked up an injury as he needed to be carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Back to the game and Djebbour surprised himself when he managed o get into a 1-on-1 situation with the goalie and he didn't take his shot cleanly, bouncing it against the goalkeepers legs. We make more attacks and shots on the Volou goal but nothing with any conviction. The play continues like this throughout normal time until we enter the first of three minutes of extra time when we win two corners in a row although we don't make any of our chances pay.
The game finishes after 3 minutes of additional time and although we can be happy that we won the three points today, we can also we very frustrated that we didn't win more convincingly. We were in control of the game for a good 70% of the time but couldn't finish our chances off.Olympiakos Volou 0-1 Olympiakos Piraeus19' FusterOlympiakos Piraeus
: Pardo, Torosidis, A.Papadopoulos, Mellberg, Bravo, Ibagaza, Modesto, Mirallas (73' Zairi), Fuster, Riera (79' Holebas), Pantelic (61' Djebbour)Olympiakos Volou
: Giakoupovic, Dolezai, Szelesi, Tomas, Alvarez, Kapetanos (71' Mitropoulos), Bertolini (46' Martin), Rokas, Monhe, Breska, Solakis (59' Akosta)Yellow Cards
: 14' Bertolini, 67' Tomas, 92' Martin / ---