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  • Writer's pictureNick Sakellis

A Crucial Matchday 4






A Crucial Matchday 4 in Europe


There is no better remedy to help forget about a poor league performance (or a very valuable reality check) than the excitement of a pivotal matchday in Europe. Group A action from the UEFA Europa League is set to begin this coming Thursday. In my humble opinion, Matchday 4 is extremely important for many reasons whether you support West Ham, Freiburg, Olympiacos, or TSC.


What’s on my mind has been outlined below. Please note that these points are my own personal feelings towards each team as they enter Matchday 4 and beyond. I have left my thoughts on Thrylos for last.


West Ham


The goal is to create as much comfortable distance as possible at the expense of their Greek visitors. Their leadership in the group is being challenged and their schedule is piling up. I expect an all-hands-on deck performance, at home, to rid themselves of the memories of their Greek voyage and establish themselves at the top of the pile again in Group A. The rumor mill is swirling around David Moyes and if I’m him, I’m throwing all I can at Olympiacos to satisfy the West Ham brass and its fans.


Freiburg


A chance to do the double over their Serbian visitors after a 3:1 victory at TSC on Matchday 3. The German outfit are looking to carve their own pathway to the knockout rounds and are most likely hoping that Olympiacos can halt West Ham to shared points or steal all three. Freiburg, in my opinion, are in firm control of their own destiny for the time being and maximum points tomorrow is key to continue challenging West Ham for top spot in Group A. Dates with Olympiacos (home) and West Ham (away) are on the horizon and I have a feeling that the Bundesliga side are more than game to claw their way to the top of the pile when all is said and done.


TSC Backa Topola


For a smaller club I would say TSC have performed decently well for themselves in Group A. The task was always going to be greater than what they could handle but they’ve fought well and have earned a point at home from Olympiacos back on Matchday 2. I am assuming that the goal for the Serbian side is to catch Olympiacos and enter the UEFA Europa Conference League. This could make Matchday 6 an appetizing occasion depending on how things shake out over the next few matchdays.


Olympiacos


Thrylos are looking to shake off their PAOK experience from this past weekend and show better on Matchday 4 in Europe. The home win on Matchday 3 against West Ham shows that the Greek side are more than capable of holding their own in Group A. Alas, away from the coziness of home the hill to climb is quite steeper than our match in Greece. A massive occasion in a Top 5 league stadium, it will be up to Olympiacos to match their hosts to evade defeat.


It is my opinion that I would like the red and whites to hold their UEFA Conference League position. I am a firm believer that the domestic front is more important than European success this season. While European football provides a tasty treat every so often, the team is not yet complete and savvy enough to do much damage beyond the group stage. Should the team descend to the Conference League, I will be more flexible with my position as I feel the team can indeed inflict some chaos at that level.


Further Discussion Points


One Trick Pony


While it was refreshing to see Rodinei back in the lineup on Sunday, it appeared that the lads went back to their old trick of running most of the offense down the right flank through the Brazilian and Podence. While both players are talented in generating quality offense, the remainder of the team looked starved for offensive creativity and ideas.


Olympiacos are a one trick pony down the right side. A “slower” team such as PAOK found the task very manageable, and it is frustrating to watch the team bash its collective head against the wall while trying to run the same offensive patterns repeatedly. It’s far too predictable and against the upper echelon clubs in Greece, this tactic will not suffice in producing positive results.


Options on the attack are required but to have that luxury, the personnel must be adequate.


Unsustainable Middle


This point will be short and sweet.

Hezze and Camara are quality players in the middle of the formation for Olympiacos. However, should these two run out of gas, and they most certainly will, who will come in to continue the flow of play through the middle? Who are our middle depth players that are ready for first team action on a consistent basis? Please don’t sit there and think Alexandropoulos is the answer to those questions. He is a great Greek youth talent, but he is not ready for overuse and requires monitored minutes instead of a lead role at this time.


Solbakken, Scarpa, and Jovetic


I will break my thoughts down per player.


Solbakken – The move to Olympiacos does not work for me and from the beginning, I often found myself asking if there were other options available within the club to promote instead of wasting money on a player that was brought on to play left-back against PAOK.


Scarpa – Never liked the signing and I feel as though Scarpa thinks he’s on vacation in Greece. His body language and commitment to the program are horrid. I hope I see a headline of him leaving the club in January. Not every transfer is a hit, and this is certainly not a hit but a complete miss. Such is football, it happens.


Jovetic – If you’re not going to play Jovetic consistently or start him in key matches then why have you signed him? Jovetic requires plenty of opportunities to play big minutes. In my opinion he should have started over El

Kaabi against PAOK. El Kaabi is a secondary striker in my opinion and the substitution on 72’ minutes should have been in the reverse order.


The Rise of Porozo


At just 23 years-old, there are bound to be mistakes, wild risks, and penalties given against. His time with the club is in its very early stages and there is much work to be done to refine this raw gem of talent. It is up to the player and staff to continuously find ways to curate his game to where it needs to be for Olympiacos and potentially beyond.


There is no rush here in my opinion. Porozo is doing just fine.


The Project


I am not trying to spoil your day but the project at the club, in my opinion, is in year one of three.


Yes, three.


From the absolute disaster that was last season there is absolutely no way that all issues could be patched over one summer break. That would’ve taken some form of sorcery which does not exist.


On the domestic front I feel that the team is where it should be. There are still some positions to fine tune around the pitch (players), the team is beating the smaller and mid-table sides but struggling with the bigger clubs. In my eyes, this was expected. There is obvious room for domestic improvement which is why a true puppet master in Cordon was hired. A project such as this takes time and personnel consistency. A revolving door of personnel will bring us back to ground zero.


Switching over to Europe, we are meeting my expectations. Aside from TSC, opponents such as Freiburg and West Ham are high quality targets to compete with. I will reiterate my point from above; I would like the team to be relegated to the UEFA Europa Conference League and concentrate its efforts on the domestic front.


4:2 losses to PAOK are more unacceptable at this stage in the resurgence. If we can take care of ourselves at home, we will be in better shape to compete on the European stage with more confidence.


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