The undefeated home of OFI and the record of Olympiakos
So, this is it… Super League has reached the end of the first round. I guess neither me nor most of you have any questions about the Champion of this season. Olympiakos has the best roster and they keep reminding us that even their second lineup is enough to give them the title. This weekend they have the motive of breaking their own record which holds for more than 50 years (30 away wins without a defeat) and I will be extremely surprised if they will not make it.
At the opening match of Day 17, OFI, who is surprisingly undefeated at home (3W-5D-0L, goals 9-4) in round one, will face another strong home team like Panetolikos (5W-3D-0L, goals 13-1) that got back to home wins last Wednesday but they seem to lose part of their strength when playing away (0W-3D-5L, goals 4-13).
Let’s take a look at the previews and betting picks for the three Saturday matches:
OFI vs. PANETOLIKOS
Xanthi had a hard time against OFI in their midweek match (2-1). OFI made things more difficult for them than they were expecting (attempts on goal 9 vs. 14) with the home team having to wait until the second half to take the lead after a foul kick at 55’ (Calvo, first touch at the ball after entering the match at 54’. The players of OFI immediately started looking for the equalizer but their goalkeeper, Fernandez, was unlucky enough to see the ball bouncing accidentally to a Xanthi’s player after a new shot of Calvo at 62’ strengthening the advantage of the home team. OFI kept looking to get back in the match and at 76’ Koutsianikoulis managed to score and set it on fire. The players of OFI have every right to complain as the referee failed to see Die stopping the ball with his hand after their foul kick at 81’. Not only that; Koutsianikoulis received a red card for reacting to his decision leaving his team with a man down in a critical point. The most important chance for OFI was lost at 93’ when Makris failed to score from a relatively wide range at the empty goal of Xanthi.
Panetolikos got back to wins on Wednesday after four matches. Their match against Platanias was a lot easier than anyone expected and the final score really says it all (3-0). The home team started adding pressure for a goal after the first 10 minutes, they had an attempt at the bar (27’) and finally scored a goal they deserved at 40’. Having a total of 19 attempts on goal (vs. 8 of Platanias, only two inside the box), it is quite logical they scored two more goals (60’, 66’) and they also missed a penalty kick at 83’ which would have turned their win into a triumph.
Betting Pick: The draw at halftime @ 1.90
I am not convinced OFI will have the easy win the odds show. Rumors wanted Mr. Chavos, the coach of Panetolikos, to be almost sucked for the club’s last results. The players answered in the field with an emphatic win showing they want him to stay. From what I have seen so far, Panetolikos is more reliable in defense than OFI and if they concentrate on it they can keep a clean sheet until halftime. To be honest I believe that the Draw @ 3.25 has become a more probable result after what I saw from the two teams in their last match.
ATROMITOS vs. PANTHRAKIKOS
Atromitos and PAOK fulfilled my expectations for a scoring draw in their last match at Peristeri (1-1). Atromitos was not interested in taking any risks in that match and this can easily explain their weak offensive performance (attempts on goal 5 vs. 11 for PAOK). They were lucky enough to take the lead at 26’ with their usual scorer Papadopoulos (3 goals in the last four matches) and they concentrated on keeping their advantage since then. PAOK was more dangerous anyway but they had to wait until the last minute to score the equalizer (90’). Both teams seemed satisfied with the draw but the truth is that PAOK may have deserved a little more.
Panthrakikos got the home win against Kalloni (2-0) as expected but the truth is that even now I am having difficulties to remember anything from that match. After a poor first half, Panthrakikos managed to score at 54’ (Cases); Kalloni was once again left with a man down at 70’ making things easier for the home side. The second goal came at 76’ giving an end to the hopes of the newcomers to get back in the match.
Betting Pick: The win of Atromitos (-1) @ 2.40
The attitude of Atromitos in the match against PAOK has convinced me they were more interested on not risking a defeat than winning the match. I cannot explain any other way how a strong home team like them (5W-3D-0L, goals 15-4) had only five attempts on goal when their stats tell us otherwise. They usually give a quick end to their home matches against the “weaker” clubs and I expect the same to happen today. Panthrakikos can be tough when playing away but they do receive goals easily (1W-4D-3L, goals 11-14). I cannot see how they can survive this match when they have failed on recent away matches like the ones against Ergotelis (3-1), Aris (2-2) or Apollon (3-2). As you can see they are usually involved in high scores so the option of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10 looks great maybe with a score like 3-0 or 3-1.
APOLLON SMYRNIS vs. OLYMPIAKOS
It seems unreal but Apollon no longer holds the worst defense of the league and they have not been defeated in their last four matches against Panathinaikos (1-1 at home), PAOK (0-0 away but very lucky), Panthrakikos (3-2 at home) and Ergotelis (2-2 away). Their last match against Ergotelis was very interesting, having four goals during the first half and a lot of tense during the second. Ergotelis scored first (16’) but Apollon answered with two goals by Petropoulos (18’, 43’) to take the lead. The home team scored again at the added time of the first half (45+3). Despite their promising start the two clubs did not score any more goals during the second half where Ergotelis added pressure but Apollon was defending properly and answered with 2-3 chances of their own.
Olympiakos did it again. Mr. Michel continues to rotate his lineup in order to keep his key players ready and healthy for the Champions League and despite his experiments the wins keep coming. In the last home match against PAS Giannina, Olympiakos was a less motivated and surprised at the same time by the performance of the opponent. They received a goal first (11’) but they immediately added pressure and scored the equalizer at 21’. There has been a lot of criticism for the two penalties the referee immediately awarded the home side (51’, 70’) which changed the score to 3-1. PAS Giannina did not quit although they had to play with a man down over the last 20 minutes and they even managed to score at 87’ to make things a bit more complicated at the end.
Betting Pick: The draw at halftime @ 3.00
It is obvious that the players of Apollon have responded very well to the change at the bench. Mr. Sanchez has one win and three draws after four difficult matches and no one can accuse him of anything if the undefeated streak will end tonight. This time he will not be at the bench because he is banned after being sent off in the last match for protesting to the referee when the players of Ergotelis chose not to follow the fair play rule while Farinola was down. I have no idea how the players will react to his absence. I only know that they may have a reason to play for their coach. And maybe, just maybe, they will manage to hold until halftime against a secondary lineup of the Champions who have the motive to stay undefeated and claim a new away win but they also have their minds on their Christmas vacations. The halftime/fulltime bet Draw/Olympiakos @ 4.20 is the only logical approach in the case this crazy scenario comes true.