Olympiacos in UEFA Champions League
Olympiacos in UEFA Champions League

The first real test of the season for Olympiacos

As you probably already know Olympiacos is dominating the domestic competitions over the last decade getting an easy access to the Champions League Groups. Their goal every season is to take that extra step in the knockout stage. On 2013-14 they came really close to the Quarter Finals but their win over Manchester United (2-0) was not enough (3-0 defeat in the re-match). There have been many changes in their roster since then but their goal remains the same; to go as far as they can in the top European competition and make their fans proud. Their first opponent in Group 1 will be Atlético Madrid, the finalists of season 2013-14. The preview and betting pick:

Analysis: Olympiakos – Atlético Madrid

*About the referee, Mr. Pedro Proença (Portugal): He is coming to Georgios Karaiskakis for the third time. The first was on 20/10/09 (Olympiakos – Standard Liege 2-1, 3 yellow cards) and the second was on 13/09/11 (Olympiakos – Marseille 0-1, 5 yellow cards and one red card). On 19/02/14 he attended the match AC Milan – Atlético (0-1, 7 yellow cards). His stats in 2014 (4 CHL matches), show a dramatic increase in yellow cards (33 in total, 8.25 per match, one red card by second yellow).

*The fans of Olympiakos are worried for quality of this season’s roster. The demand for tickets in domestic matches has decreased and for the first time there were 1500 tickets left one day before an important Champions League match. The officials do not worry as they do believe all of them will be sold before kickoff.

*The coach of Atlético Madrid is banned and he is not allowed to be at the bench of his team tonight. He will probably watch the game from the VIP room.

*The goalkeeper of Olympiakos, Roberto, is expected to be highly motivated for a good performance. On 26/07/13 he signed a 4 year contract with Atlético Madrid but he was immediately loaned to Olympiakos. He immediately became a key player for the Greek Champions and his performances in the Champions League (especially the one against another former team, Benfica on 05/11/13, man of the match) made him very popular for the supporters. On February 2014, Olympiakos paid €6 million to sign the player for 4 years.

Olympiacos has already played three matches in Super League and they currently have a record of 2W-1D-0L. The supporters of the club are pessimistic after the decision of the officials to sell key players like Samaris (Benfica 10m €), Manolas (Roma €13m), Holebas (Roma €1m), Machado (Dynamo Zagreb €2.5m) and others. It would not be an exaggeration to say the roster had an extreme makeover and there has been a lot of criticism that the players which left were not equally replaced. The friendly tests against strong clubs showed Olympiakos cannot score as easily while in the two first official matches against Niki Volou (3-1) and Panetolikos (1-1 away) the team had defensive problems as well. Mr. Míchel stated he is confident the roster is fine and that this Group looks quite similar to the one of last season when Olympiakos qualified to the knockout stage.

Injured: Maniatis (DEF), Siovas (MID)

Atlético Madrid has also started the new season in Primera Division where they have a record of 2W-1D-0L. They come from a spectacular away win against the hated rivals or Real Madrid (1-2) which boosted the morale of the team. The players of Mr. Simeone showed they intend to defend their title in Spain and that they are still a very tough and talented team. They lost key players during the transfer period like Courtois (GK, he was on loan from Chelsea, he returned), Diego Costa (Chelsea €38m) or Felipe Luis (Chelsea €20m) and others. Mr. Simeone stated the newly arrived players will need some time to adjust and that the goal of the club is to become stronger from season to season. He also said he has not made up his mind about his starting lineup. Normally he will be forced to make changes because the battle against Real Madrid was on Saturday.

Absences: None, full roster.

Betting Pick: The win of Atlético Madrid @ 2.00

Olympiakos is very strong at Georgios Karaiskakis but how can a roster of €60.85 million resist to a club like Atlético Madrid (€275.88 million)? No one will blame the Greek Champions if they lose tonight but at the same time they have absolutely NOTHING to lose.

I cannot possibly know the exact plans of Mr. Simeone for the starting lineup. As I said many times in the past, the fanatic supporters of Olympiakos give their team a huge boost to score at least one goal even against strong opponents. The offered odds on both teams will score @ 2.10 tells me the bookies underestimate the home team.

The combination of the two bets above can only give a result of Over 2.5 goals @ 2.35 and the scores I have in mind are 1-2 @ 9.00 and 1-3 @ 19.00.

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