Olympiacos-Eintracht Frankfurt Post-Game Reaction: Their all just wasn't enough
Olympiacos tried their hardest to beat Group D first place contenders Eintracht Franκfurt at the 'Georgios Karaiskakis' yet fell short due to a goal in stoppage time by substitute Jans-Petter Hauge, losing the game 1-2.
All the odds seemed to be in the favor of the homeside for the encounter. A huge turnout of passionate fans, ready to see the team climb back to the top of their group, their opponents missing some of their strongest players such as Filip Kostic and Goncalo Paciencia. On the other end apart from Pape Abbou Cisse, Olympiacos coach Pedro Martins had no noticeable absences from his training regiment.
The Portuguese manager chose to give a starting position to Henry Onyekuru, who was noticeably missing from the team roster for the trip to Etoloakarnania on the weekend, while Mady Camara was in midfield next to Yann M' Vila. The other positions were as usual, with Tomas Vaclik under the goalpost, Oleg Reaciuk on the left side of defense, Kenny Lala on the right, Ousseynou Ba replacing his Senegalese compatriot in the heart of defense next to Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Giorgos Masouras playing on the opposite wing of Onyekuru, Aguibou Camara given a playmaker position and Youssef El Arabi leading the charge.
Great start extinguished by quick response
And it was indeed a promising start at Faliro, as after a great transition which saw the ball pass from defense to offense with lightning speed, Onyekuru found himself with acres of space on the left wing. The Nigerian timed the run of Youssef El Arabi who had no problem opening the score and becoming Olympiacos' record scorer in European tournaments.
However, Eintracht, as proven in the game that took place a fortnight ago, are not a team that give up easily. In that manner, they came up front and five minutes later a clever pass went right through the Olympiacos backline and found the run of Daichi Kamada, with the Japanese sneaking in between Papastathopoulos and Ba and tapping the ball behind Vaclik to bring the game back on level terms.
The encounter turned into a hard-fought battle of who would gain dominance of midfield. More often than not, it was the Germans who came out on top in this little scuffle, yet they would find themselves exposed by the home side's clever breakthroughs and trademark pressure on all sides of the pitch. It was that pressure that allowed them to steal many balls and create opportunities up front, such as the one at 35 minutes when El Arabi found Masouras in the box. Yet the Greek international was beaten by German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
In all this time, Eintracht were never able to create anything substantial up front, yet it seemed obvious like they were searching for that single opportunity that would allow them to walk away with the three points. Meanwhile, Olympiacos continued to desperately hold their visitors at bay with some impressive defending (especially by Papastathopoulos, Lala and Reabciuk) and seeking that one goal that would set the whole stadium ablaze.
Similar situation in the second half, Olympiacos run out of energy
The situation didn't change in the second half either, with the 'erythrolefki' having what was arguably the greatest chance of the encounter, after Onyekuru was brought one-on-one with Trapp thanks to a clever touch by El Arabi, yet his shot went inches wide of the left post.
Martins took his chances by bringing in players who throughout the season have shown ups and downs in their performance (Tiquinho, Rony Lopes, Kunde Malong). Yet therein lied another key difference between the two teams. Because as the Portuguese manager was bringing in players of doubtful quality, his counterpart on Eintracht's bench, Oliver Glasner, was giving opportunities to kids he knew he could trust and they simply followed his instructions to the end.
At times it appeared as if Olympiacos players held on to the ball without having anything to do with it. The German team knew exactly how they needed to mark and who (Mady Camara and Yann M' Vila's performances are proof of that - they didn't play bad, they were just forced into a less active role), while at the same time it seemed as though the players knew where they needed to pass the ball without even so much as a second - or even a first - glance.
With all this in mind, it came as no shock that they eventually found what they were looking for, even in stoppage time, when substitute Jesper Lindstrom fed the ball towards Jens-Petter Hauge, with the latter beating Vaclik for the second time in the evening and giving his team the win and the three points.
Bundesliga vs. Super League: No comparison
The loss and the performance, with the way it came and the way the two teams played, is once again proof of the vast difference between the Bundesliga and the Greek Super League. Olympiacos gave it their all, put everything they had on the table and could barely create 3-4 solid, goalscoring chances.
Meanwhile, Eintracht played a game just like any other. They were missing some of their most important players (for some reason, their key Austrian defender and vice-captain Martin Hinterreger also didn't participate in the match) and would've had every excuse if they had lost. But they ran until the 90 minutes were over, just like they do in every game and they were rewarded for it.
Among the Olympiacos players, most notable for their performance were Aguibou Camara, who could be seen going past two or three German players at times, demonstrating his excellent handling skills, Youssef El Arabi, who simply keeps getting better with age, Kenny Lala, who's finally gotten over his relocation issues and is now an integral part of the Olympiacos defense, and the positive surprise of the evening, Henry Onyekuru, who displayed great pace, dribbling and passing skills.
On the other end, Giorgos Masouras didn't provide much help up front and missed Olympiacos' second most important opportunity (after Onyekuru's) to reclaim the lead. Also, Oleg Reabciuk tried his best defensively but it's clear that he simply doesn't have what it takes to help the team up front. Yann M' Vila and Mady Camara also didn't help much but, as mentioned earlier, that's more likely due to how well closed down they were by the opposition, rather than their own performance.
Tonight's loss is clear proof that Olympiacos, as a team, have a ceiling, that no matter how hard they try, they'll never be able to break. A chain that will forever hold them back from achieving success on the European level. An inescapable burden. That burden is the Greek Super League. As an organization, they've shown that they've outgrown it and they operate on a different scale. But as a football team, it will always be something that holds them back.