Fenerbahçe vs Olympiacos: Player ratings and Coach's Grade
Clean sheet for the Czech international today. Fener had 16 shots on goal, only 3 of those were on target. In general, his positioning was top class - best example was a great save he made towards the end of the match at point blank to deny Fenerbahçe a consolation goal. Still some communication issues to solve with the defence: particularly one moment in the first half where he and Cissé didn't communicate and they left Pelkas and Enner Valencia alone in the box following a cross from the left. That will be fixed with time. He is beginning to stamp down his authority as the teams guardian between the sticks. Did I mention ? --> Great distribution.
Let's get this one out the way. Pedro Martins was, in my mind, looking for someone with strength to match up against the fast and strong physical presence of Enner Valencia. Alas, the choice to put Ousseynou Ba is hopefully and probably an experiment that we will never see ever again. Clearly right back is not his position but it still looks like he is far from rediscovering the form that had him put on the list of a few clubs in Europe's big leagues.
Tidy performance from Sokratis. Got stuck in and made a couple of good blocks; no-nonsense defending from Papa, as usual. Led the line at the back and didn't make any notable errors defensively or in build-up. He and Cissé still need more time to gel but it looks like its getting better. Clinical performance from Papa.
The type of performance that we've come to expect from Cissé . He played with passion, was unbeatable in the air and attempted some wasteful long balls with his left foot. Pape is the type of player the wears his heart on his sleeve. Since coming back from his loan stint at St Etienne he appears to have improved his concentration levels. Important for him and all the defence that we kept the clean sheet away in such a fixture. That showed towards the end of the game where, with the confidence, we saw that he is also quite good on the ball. Keep it up Pape!
We talked about bionic man, Holebas. What about bionic-Oleg!? In September, he has played 10 matches for club and country. Relentless. Energetic. Never gives up. He is steadily gaining more and more appreciation from Olympiacos fans. The goal against Antwerp clearly did him a world of good. Contrary to previous matches where he would typically play it safe, today we saw him on numerous occasions taking the ball and running into space and taking on defenders when he went on his forays into the final third. His crossing continues to improve. Needs to work more on his short passing and build-up play. Defensively he did well and was playing with a yellow from the middle of the first half. We believe in Oleg.
We all know that what Boucha lacks in pace, he makes up for in quickness of thought and speed of mind. These European games however, against more athletic opposition, the going can get tough for Boucha. He is prone to making some bad passes in the midfield that lead to opportunities for the opposition and have Olympiacos fans' screaming from the stands or the sofa... wherever you're watching the game from. Otherwise, he tried to dictate the tempo and slow the game down when we needed to control possession and take the sting out of the game. It's also worth reminding that Bouchalakis has, like Oleg, been an ever present in Martins side, playing non-stop. Will he get a breather against Panathinaikos on the weekend? I doubt it...and then comes the international break. Courage Boucha.
For the high standards I hold Mady to, I still think he is far from firing on all cylinders. However, he did the job today. He stole balls in midfield. He contributed to the pressing that led to Fener mistakes which led to dangerous offensive transitions for Thrylos. He could have made it 2-0 in the first half following a cut back from Masouras. His passing left a bit to be desired. But again, it's Mady. We are beyond lucky to have him in the team for a 4th season. Mady is a luxury for Greek football. We should be grateful. From diamond in the rough, he's turned into a top, top midfielder. Let's continue to enjoy him for as long as he is here.
Aguibou 'Baby' Camara
Speaking of 'diamond in the rough'... Aguibou Camara is a first team regular and probably one of the first names on the team sheet for Pedro Martins. Get used to it, ladies and gentlemen. Baby Camara is here to stay. The talent and potential is ... frightening. At the tender age of 20, he still has to improve on his decision making (see 57th minute where he shoots and has Tiquinho and Onyekuru free in the box next to him) but every game we see new facets to his game. The confidence is oozing through him and it's really starting to show on the pitch, more and more each game. Together with Mady, he was key to our midfield press. He stole balls, was involved in almost everything positive the team did offensively and in terms of build-up. Aguibou was involved in all 3 goals. The first where he steals the ball and releases a good pass out wide to Masouras before he passed to Tiquinho. The second he sets Tiquinho away down the left hand side. And the third, he takes on the defender and shoots before Masouras slotted it in. On top of all that, we saw him coming back on defence too and getting stuck in too in stoppage time.
Fener fans were fearing him more than anyone going into tonight's game. That's because of the record he has against Fener as a Galatasaraay player. We are yet to see the best of Onyekuru yet. In my opinion, that's largely down to lack of confidence in the offensive third and also due to lack of chemistry with his team mates. He is still gelling into the team but he is making intelligent runs and his team mates are slowly understanding his game better. When they do develop that chemistry, things are going to get dangerous for opposition defences. What Henry is currently lacking on the offensive end, he's making up for in terms of his good tactical positioning on the field and his tracking back the team is in defensive transition.
Man of the match. By a country mile. 2 goals. 1 assist. Need I say more? I will. Masouras is like a Stelios Giannakopoulos 2.0. Stelios would have been proud of both those goals, particularly the first one that made it 2-0 and was essentially the sucker punch for Fener, against the run of play, a sweet and powerful half volley. The keeper had no chance. Funnily enough, when we had Stelios on the show, he talked to us about how he and Masouras did a lot on the training field together when Stelio was part of the national team coaching set up. It's showing! Masouras has been fantastic since returning from one month out injured. What a return! And he looks like he is linking up very well with Tiquinho. It won't be long until European clubs come knocking for Masouras. Fantastic performance. Possibly one of his best if not his best performance in an Olympiacos shirt. If he had scored that chance to make it a hat-trick, I'd give him a 10/10.
When we did our transfer roundup episode, Tiquinho was my pick for best transfer. That's 4 goals in 3 games now for the Brazilian centre forward. And WHAT A GOAL that 1st goal was tonight. Exquisite dink over the keeper. Cool as a cucumber. World class finish. And it wasn't just the finishing on display. He got involved in build-up, he held up the ball well and demonstrated some really nice touches today that we had not seen until now. Before the second goal, he got the ball on the left hand side and beat the defender with a neat step over, he looked up and found Mady in the box (shot was blocked and then fell to Masouras). Let's not forget he is also coming from a long absence. He's worked hard to get here. The hard work is paying off. And I'll tell you one more thing: El Arabi's place in the starting 11 is not as fixed as it was before.
Came into the game after 63 minutes and injected his energy, pace and strength. Crisp passing from Kunde. He contributed to the teams press and got involved out wide on the right as well, contributing on both ends of the field. Would love to see him get more game time. Perhaps against Panathinaikos on the weekend?
Finally! I think the Kenny Lala that we saw tonight, is the Kenny Lala the scouting team were raving about! Very involved in build-up play. Good distribution and a nuisance for the opposition when we were on the attack. Hopefully, this is the game Lala needed to get going.
NB. No ratings for Vrousai, Valbuena and El Arabi as they came on in the dying moments of the game.
There was a lot of confusion going into tonight's match. Reports indicated that Martins had chosen to revert to 3-4-3 which created some unrest amongst the Olympiacos faithful. However, when the game started, it was clear that Martins had opted for a 4-3-3 with Bouchalakis as the sitting, holding midfielder and Mady and Baby Camara as the pairing that was pressing Fener and trying to steal the ball. As I explained earlier, the only reason I can find for Pedro's decision to start Ba at right back has to do with the match up against Enner Valencia Michal Karbownik vs Enner Valencia would have been a cruel match-up. It's like a feather weight going up against a heavy weight. Pedro's choice to go for Ba at right back was probably not his best decision but he quickly fixed that at half time with the introduction of Kenny Lala and otherwise, it was very clear: el professor did his homework and read the opposition well. The press deployed in midfield led to a lot of mistakes by Fener. And the approach of absorbing some pressure and waiting for the counters and opportunities created by the press, bore fruit in the end. Kudos also for keeping Tiquinho in the starting 11. There was some discussion about who would start before the game. Tiquinho rewarded the coach's faith with yet another goal.
If it wasn't for the decision to start Ba at right back, it would be an A for Pedro tonight.