Eintracht Franfurt - Olympiacos Match Preview: A Unique Opportunity for the Red-and-Whites
After taking the lead in the Greek Super League, the team from Piraeus once again turns its attention towards its European duties. Their next opponents: Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt in a second consecutive away game for Pedro Martins and his men. Yet, what may seem like a curse could very easily be seen as a blessing if he and his players choose to tweak their perspective a bit.
It can be argued that, although The Eagles (as the team from south-west Germany is more commonly known) are a club that plays in the tough-as-nails Bundesliga, this season is definitely not one of their best, as revealed by their recent results. Although they pulled off a shocking 1-2 win against champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena (in a game where they held 28 percent possession of the ball) the rest of their season has been nothing too groundbreaking. Two wins, two losses, and six draws is what club manager Oliver Glasner and his men have been able to achieve so far.
Their European journey is more of the same, as they held Fenerbahce to a 1-1 draw at home, while claiming a 0-1 win in Belgium against Antwerp, thanks to a penalty kick in the dying minutes of the game.
The Olympiacos Threat
On the other hand, we have Olympiacos, a team which, if you look at their statistics, are a serious threat for the Bundesliga side. This has absolutely nothing to do with their results in Greece. The Piraeus side are undefeated in nine consecutive games in Europe (they never lost to Ludogorets despite the disqualification), including away games against Arsenal and Fenerbahce. They're coming off an impressive 0-3 win in Turkey and they're playing away from home once again. A loss in Germany would mean absolutely nothing for the team, as they still have another two games in Athens and an away game with the arguably weakest side of the group (Antwerp).
If anyone should feel pressure in this encounter, it's the Bundesliga side, who are not convincing anyone with their performances this season and are up against a group of players who want to prove themselves to the rest of Europe. A second consecutive away-from-home victory against a club with high prestige such as Eintracht would do wonders for the team, not just for its position in the group, but for its public image as well.
However, this could always prove to be a double-edged sword and the players may get swayed by their own overeagerness. But when it comes to situations like that, Pedro Martins has demonstrated time and time again that he has what it takes to pull his players back down to earth.
Who to keep an eye on
Of course, that's not to say that the German club has zero merits; if you underestimate them, they'll be sure to pull the rug from under your feet, as Bayern Munich were quick to find out.
Glasner usually has his players use a 3-4-3 formation, which may switch to a 3-4-1-2 depending on the circumstances of the game. The Frankfurters have a rock-solid defense which is organised by their experienced captain and goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, a former German international who can prove tough to beat. Second in line is their experienced Austrian Martin Hinteregger, who always takes one of the three spots in the heart of defense. It's worth pointing out that neither of these players have missed a single minute of the club's games so far.
Moving forward, the greatest threat for the Olympiacos defense is undoubtedly Filip Kostic. The Serbian international has already scored two goals and provided three assists for his teammates so far in the season and is essential for all of Glasner's plans inside the pitch. Kostic possesses a keen eye for through balls, and a rare talent for spotting weaknesses in opposing defences, so if the 'erythrolefki' hope to leave Germany with a good result, they'll need to restrain his movements. Kostic usually starts off from the left side of midfield, but is given a high level of freedom inside the pitch, having earned the complete trust of his manager.
Another player whose name you might want to remember is that of Swiss international Djibril Sow. He plays as a defensive midfielder but is not afraid to come forward, as proven by his two assists so far in the season. He has a medium build (1.84m) and is quick on his feet, but it is his quick thinking that Olympiacos need to be wary of as he is usually the one who will start off all of his team's offensive efforts.
Although these are the greatest threats for Tomas Vaclik's net, there are others, such as Goncalo Paciencia and Australian international Ajdan Hrustic (who scored the Socceroos goal in their recent game against Japan), who could also do damage if left unchecked. Pedro Martins and his team will need to be prepared.
Overall, this is a game that depends entirely on how Olympiacos will approach it. They have the quality, the skill and the experience to not only beat, but thrash the German side, if they do things correctly. Eintracht is one of the most well-known outfits that the Bundesliga has to offer, but they're going through a transitional period, which works out well for the Greek side.
Pedro Martins is fortunate enough to have a number of players who are not only experienced, but also in great form, and can pose a huge threat for the opposing defense, such as Aguibou Camara, Tiquinho, El Arabi and Masouras. If Olympiacos grab the three points from the Deutsche Bank Park, then they'll be looking at the rest of their group schedule with an entirely different outlook. It's up to them.