Asteras vs Olympiacos Post Match Analysis: Just Another Day the Office
The older I get, the more I appreciate the calmer and tranquil things in life. Some of you would probably categorize that as “boring, but at the tender age of 31 there is only so much excitement I can deal with in a day. Ahead of our showdown in Turkey on Thursday, I had no problem with a routine win against Asteras.
Ahead of this fixture Asteras had yet to score a goal in league play since May 16th. If anything, I expected that Asteras would threaten on a handful of occasions and maybe snag a goal if they were lucky. Unfortunately they did not even manage that. The opportunities they did have amounted to a whopping .16 xG. This does not make for a riveting post match, but there’s still a few things we can get into.
Starting with game flow, the chart above probably will not surprise any of you. During the first 30 minutes of the match, we were the dominant side. Our volley of opportunities which saw us snag 2 goals came directly at Asteras’s expense. Besides their attempt by Crespi in the 14th minute that registered less than .01 xG, they would not see their second attempt until almost 40 minutes in. Bearing this in mind, it’s understandable why the team backed off after the 2nd goal. There was a vocal contingent of fans that were wholly unhappy with this, but the writing was on the wall even before the 2nd goal that the plan was to be at half speed.
If we look at the PPDA graph above, we can see very clearly that we had no intention of pressing high on Asteras. It’s normal for Olympiacos to be slow in working in the press, but to see our highest pressure point at over 11 PPDA is absurdly high for the Super League. As we have seen in the past, our press,especially against mid and lower tier clubs, tend to be around 5-6. The focus was clear. Get the lead and ride it out to keep the squad healthy for the trip to Turkey.
Now I know I painted this match as a “normal day in the office” type of match. That does not mean we do not have a couple of takeaways.
STOP THE BOUCHALAKIS HATE!
There is so much unnecessary negativity towards Bouchalakis. Does he have limits? Of course he does. Is he Mvila? Or Mady? Absolutely not. None of that matters though. Pedro Martins has found a niche for Bouchalakis that is giving us the best out of him. For those that missed the stat card we posted earlier, he had 95% pass accuracy with 62 attempted passes. At halftime he was perfect with 100% pass accuracy. Only Bouchalakis can achieve something like this and still have fans complaining about him.
There are some other interesting facts about Bouchalakis that may surprise you. To start, he currently leads Olympiacos players in xA(.86) through 4 matches as a defensive midfielder. He leads the team in smart passes per 90(1) behind Masouras and Valbuena. He leads the team in interceptions per 90 with only Oleg Reabciuk seeing more interceptions.
There is so much that Bouchalakis does well that gets ignored while the community chooses to focus on his “slowness” in possession.
Tiquinho Continues to make his Case
3 goals in 2 games. Do I need to say more? For those of you concerned that this is luck, the underlying data says otherwise.
To briefly summarize what you see in the three graphs above, Tiquinho’s goals are not by chance. Tiquinho leads Greece in xG, total shots, and total touches in the penalty area. The sheer volume of opportunities he is seeing inside the penalty area is absurd. As a reference, we always spoke about how Hassan used to find himself consistently in scoring opportunities. As it was with Hassan, it is with Tiquinho. They get into great positions and large amounts of them. The primary difference between Hassan and Tiquinho is that Tiquinho is more technical and has the physical prowess of a lion. At the very least, we have a striker that can compete directly with El Arabi and push him to be the best version of himself on the field.
There are plenty of things trending in the right direction ahead of our meeting with Fenerbahce. We have a striker finding form ahead of this fixture, Martins seems to be settling in with a format, and all of our pieces(except Fortounis) have returned from injury. The pressure will be on Fenerbahce and the expectation is that they will dominate at home. This is exactly where we want to be.