• Konstantinos Lianos

Now Olympiacos HAVE to beat Panathinaikos



Olympiacos did what they had to do at the Georgios Karaiskakis as they picked up an easy 2-

0 win over Lamia.


Manager Michel opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with the in-form Alexandros Paschalakis in

goal, while Gonzalo Avila started at right-back with Oleg Reabciuk on the other side and

Andreas Ntoi teaming up with Ousseynou Ba at centre-back.


Hwang In-Beom linked up with Diadie Samassekou, who made his first start with the

Erythrolefki, in midfield.


Pep Biel covered the right flank with Giorgos Masouras on the other side, while James

Rodriguez played behind Cedric Bakambu who spearheaded the hosts’ attack.


The Greek champions made quick work of Gianluca Festa’s men with James’ insane opener

after just 22 minutes. Hwang found the Colombia international with a brilliant cross down

the right and the ex-Real Madrid star beat Bojan Saranov with a bizarre header from a

tight corner.Bakambu sealed the three points only six minutes later thanks to

Ntoi’s marvellous ball from defence and Daniel Adejo’s dreadful marking.


The Piraeus giants could have scored more goals with Bakambu, Biel, Hwang, Youssef El

Arabi and Marcelo, who came from the bench and put together quite a positive

performance in front of the Karaiskaki audience.


Now Olympiacos face a huge season decider already against rivals Panathinaikos at Leoforos

this coming Sunday – and it’s not even November!


My co-host, and everyone’s favourite Gate7 International superstar, Lambros Syrmos

correctly pointed out that this is the first Eternal Derby with major implications in recent

memory.


The last time the two rivals locked horns for the Superleague’s top spot was back in 2010

when Olympiacos lost 2-1 at OAKA with Djibril Cisse’s brace, which cancelled out Kevin

Mirallas’s stunning opener.


In fact, Olympiacos, who will be coming as the underdogs, won’t be able to hope for the title

if they fail to beat Ivan Jovanovic’s high-flyers – especially if they lose. Michel’s men are

already 10 points behind first place, if they lose that will become 13 and I can’t

remember a Greek team coming back from such a deficit and winning the league at this

stage of the season.


As we said on the show on Sunday, it is important to beat the minnows but Olympiacos have

yet to win a big match, having failed to seal victory within 90 minutes or extra-time in the

European qualifiers, Europa League group stage or two derbies – both of which were lost.

Panathinaikos, on the other hand, have won all 10 of their first games and all three of their

derbies against Aris, PAOK and AEK – confidence is sky high, and it will improve even more if

they beat their hated rivals in a packed Leoforos.


However, a loss could lead to a rough landing for the Superleague table-toppers that would

minimise their lead to seven points with three more Eternal Derbies to go in the league.

Olympiacos are already likely to be without Ba and Mathieu Valbuena with the former

hobbling off the pitch after just 11 minutes with an injury and the latter favouring his groin

during the closing stages against Lamia.


That is why it would probably be a good idea if Michel rested some key players against

Nantes on Thursday with Europe already lost for this season.


As I said during Sunday’s show, a good balance in the starting line-up would probably be in

order as it wouldn’t be ideal for the players to visit Panathinaikos after another heavy

European defeat at home.


But I also wrote last week that it is important to have four players in the starting line-up

every week; Bakambu and James can’t play in Europe but Biel and Hwang need to be

omitted from the Nantes game, especially the latter who has been dealing with niggles this

season.


Olympiacos have reason to hope for a season-changing win over Panathinaikos this coming

weekend and those four players could be the basis behind a potential triumph as most of

them are already amassing talismanic stats during their short stay with the team.

James counts two goals and one assist in five league matches, Bakambu has four goals and

one assist in six league matches and Biel has registered two goals and one assist in six

league matches, while Hwang has been an absolute beast in midfield.


Paschalakis is also crucial with three clean sheets in four matches across all competitions –

the in-form goalkeeper has yet to concede in the Superleague.


Then there’s the impressive Ntoi, who has proven to be a breath of fresh air at centre-back

and has already been established as a starter at the age of 19 – let’s not forget

Samassekou’s impressive display as well.


Lamia also proved there needs to be a change on the left side with Reabciuk still failing to

convince, with the common excuse of him playing too much already fading away.

As we’ve constantly pointed out, Olympiacos concede most attacks down the left and

produce the fewest attacks from the same side.


With the Nantes game being nothing but a formality, perhaps it would be a good idea to

start Marcelo at left-back as the Real legend’s inclusion against Lamia led to a much livelier

collaboration with Valbuena down the left.


If that sort of tinkering pays off against a legit European opponent, then it should also be

applied against Panathinaikos – there definitely needs to be a vision to change the left side

like Michel did against Lamia.


Olympiacos are lucky that second place is good enough for Champions League qualification

this season, but if they fail to put an end to Panathinaikos’ onslaught then that’s the best

they will be able to hope for…


P.S: Free Doron Leidner!!!


TO WATCH THE POST MATCH REVIEW AND FOR MORE DISCUSSION AHEAD OF THE DERBY OF ETERNAL ENEMIES, CHECK OUT SUNDAY'S SHOW BELOW!



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