OFI’s experience against Kalloni
The two Wednesday matches for the Cup competition were completed without any surprises. Panathinaikos and Atromitos used their improved performances during the second half of their matches and moved on with wins to the next round. The Round of 16 continues today with two more matches and the teams involved seem capable of offering us more goals according to their overall behavior. Kalloni comes from the important home win against Aris on Monday and they will now try to defend the score of the first match (0-1) against OFI. To the other match, the undefeated home streak of Niki Volou in both competitions will be challenged by Apollon Smyrnis who has shown remarkable signs of improvement with Mr. Lawrie Sanchez at the bench.
Here are the previews and betting picks for today’s Cup matches:
KALLONI vs. OFI
On Aggregate: 1-0.The winner will move on to the Quarter Finals to face Aiginiakos or Panionios.
Note: The match will be held at OAKA, Athens, because the maintenance and improvement works at the venue of Kalloni are still in progress.
The players of Kalloni got the most important win of the season on Monday against Aris at OAKA (3-1). Despite the fact they received a goal first, they managed to score three times and climb at the eleventh place of the standings adding a lot of pressure to all the teams beneath them by complicating the relegation fight. Their away win against OFI in the first Cup match (0-1) came only three days after the two teams had met for the league (win for OFI 3-1). The same 22 players of the match against Aris will be used again today and for the next away match against Giannina in Super League. For this reason changes in the lineup should be taken for granted. There are no important problems or absences reported.
OFI comes from a home defeat against Veria which was considered a negative result that ended their undefeated home streak (4W-5D-0L before it). Mr. Sa Pinto was not satisfied with the performance of his players as they had the control of the match but they could not turn their chances into goals. Things became worse with the two red cards at Bourbos (75’) and Zoro (81’) that allowed Veria to score (85’) and escape with a very important win. Mr. Sa Pinto and the players are aware how dangerous Kalloni can be, especially on a good day so they will be more cautious this time. Bourbos (DEF/18), Zoro (DEF/15) and Koutsianikoulis (MID/15/2 goals) are banned for this match while Daskalakis (GK/11) and Fraggoulakis (MID/8/1 goal) are injured.
Betting Pick: OFI to win @ 2.30
The bookies are aware of the difficulties in this match for Kalloni. They had a difficult match on Monday and they also have another one on Sunday (Giannina). The Cup competition is a luxury for the newcomers who are mainly interested in avoiding relegation. At the same time OFI will have to face Platanias in the domestic battle of Crete this weekend but they are more experienced in the “avoiding relegation” process. Neither Aiginiakos nor Panionios are considered unbeatable opponents for them and this is why I do expect to see higher motivation for the win by OFI’s side. The odds are a bit low on the away win but the overall behavior of Kalloni in defense offers two more interesting bets. The options of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.20 and Over 3.5 goals @ 4.50 worth our attention if we consider the score of the first round in Super League (3-1).
NIKI VOLOU vs. APOLLON SMYRNIS
On Aggregate: 1-3. The winner will move on to the Quarter Finals to face Iraklis or PAOK.
Niki Volou comes from an away draw against Tyrnavos (0-0) which was a positive result if we consider the home strength of their opponent (6W-1D-1L) and the fact that neither Karditsa nor Gazoros that are beneath them in the standings won their matches. They are expected to enter the Playoffs one way or another so they are allowed to try a bit harder in the Cup. They are still undefeated at home this season (7W-1D-0L in six league and one cup matches). Isaac Jové (MID/12/1 goal) and Tzioras (FWD/11/5 goals) are injured and they will be the only problems for coach Luciano today.
Mr. Lawrie Sanchez has turned Apollon Smyrnis into a competitive team. It is a mystery how he has managed to bond the players but the important thing is that the team is totally different since he arrived. Apollon is a lot more concentrated and dangerous and their emphatic home win over Giannina (4-0, also included in the Pick of the Day section) was just another proof of the great work that he does. The score of the first match (3-1) has allowed the rotation in the starting lineup. Tzorvas (GK/18), Kanakoudis (DEF/7), Panteliadis (DEF/14/1 goal), Álvarez (DEF/18), Delizissis (DEF/19/1 goal), Argyropoulos (MID/13/1 goal), Minga (MID/15/4 goals), Farinola (FWD/15/2 goals), Dahlberg (FWD/2/1 goal) and Tsokanis (FWD/10) were left out. Korbos (MID/18/5 goals) will also miss the match because of injury.
Betting Pick: The win of Niki Volou @ 2.00
It is obvious that Apollon will use a secondary lineup today but I am under the impression they underestimate their opponent who is undefeated at home. If a goal comes early in the match for Niki Volou, things will become extremely difficult Apollon without starting lineup players that have scored 15 out of their 23 goals in Super League so far. I cannot be sure if Niki Volou can turn things around in this match but their win has become a value bet no matter what happens.
This is also a great chance for coach Luciano to start feeling safer at the bench of the team. In his three matches so far he has 1W-2D and rumors want the officials of the club to think about replacing him. Keep in mind that this weekend Niki Volou will also face Kassiopi, the leaders of Group 2. If Mr. Luciano will manage two wins in those matches things can change for him rapidly.