Olympiakos- Fenerbahce Preview: Now or Never
Well, well, well, after a somewhat positive ending to a game against AEK, where we were unable to efficiently control possession and the tempo of the game, European football is back. It’s time to put the AEK game behind us, and now shift our focus to an ever-important match at our ‘Fortress’ against an in-form Fenerbahce side. With only one game remaining against Antwerp after our clash with the Turkish side, it is crucial that we perform the way that all us Olympiakos supporters know we are capable of. Whether the ‘Erythrolefki’ will continue their journey in the Europa League or be sent to the Conference League relies on the result of this upcoming match.
In our first game against Fenerbahce, we arguably saw the best performance this side has displayed so far this season. Martins controversially went for a 4-1-4-1 formation that closed down all passing lanes and pressed the ‘Yellow Canaries’. The high press that was applied ultimately left Fenerbahce to play down the widths of the pitch. Although initially the decision by the ‘Professor’ seemed to not be as successful as planned, a half-time change which brought in Kenny Lala sparked the fire within the red and white to really pressure Fenerbahce to not efficiently control possession, and make costly errors that we were able to capitalise upon. Despite the recent attention targeted towards Martins’ inability to foster positive play, it was clear that this game was a tactical masterclass. Thus, we should look to emulate this style and pressure Fenerbahce to turn over possession and make careless mistakes, whilst we still control possession and the tempo of the game.
Regardless of our previous victory, coming off a derby win against Galatasaray, Fenerbahce will be eager to seek revenge and steal the 3 points away from home. According to Turkish Sport newspaper “Fotospor”, Mesut Ozil, who was recently announced to be missing the clash due to injury, expressed his desire to make our President, Vangelis Marinakis ‘eat his words’, that he made following the previous game in Turkey. In the interview, Ozil seemed certain that “a big party will take place in Athens”. If this doesn’t elicit a greater hunger within Olympiakos fans and the club to crash the Turks’ ‘Party’ in Piraeus, then I’m not sure what will.
Alongside Ozil, the pacey forward, Enner Valencia will also be missing the game against the ‘Thrylos’. Valencia was a main reason why Martin’s elected to utilise Ousseynou Ba as a full back to absorb the attacking pressure that Valencia applied. Luiz Gustavo and Altay Bayindir have also been ruled out with injuries sustained.
Going into the match against Fenerbahce, myself and all Olympiakos supporters are hoping for a performance that truly reflects what this team is capable of achieving. Our European fate lies upon the result of this game, so if the team truly wants to put aside previous failures and progress within the Europa League, securing the 3 points is extremely vital. A win will see us 4 points ahead of Fenerbahce and 1 point behind group leaders, Eintracht Frankfurt. Ideally, a top of the group finish would see the red and white being placed in Pot 1 for UEL Group winners, whereas a finish in second could possibly see Olympiakos facing off a 3rd place Champions League team in the Round of 32.
Now is the time to put previous poor performances behind us and focus completely on securing the 3 points at home, in front of our 12th man. I am extremely optimistic that a positive result following this week’s game with Fenerbahce could initiate some motivation and hunger within the squad to better performances. It is now or never.