Olympiakos-PAOK Preview: Time for Revenge?
After a disappointing and underwhelming performance against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League. Olympiakos looks to once against establish momentum and a positive rhythm against rivals PAOK in the 7th match of the Greek Super League.
Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly), Olympiakos’ appeal against a one-match no fans ban was rejected by EPO, meaning that the ever-important 12th man for the Thrylos will once again miss a derby match that fans have been extremely eager to attend. Although there is still a long road ahead of us, this match against PAOK holds a rivalry that has been manifested over previous years and could possibly hand the red and white an important 3 points that will bolster them 4 points ahead of PAOK on the table.
PAOK have begun their campaign quite strongly, highlighted by a derby win against AEK and F.C. Copenhagen in the UEFA Conference League. Following the re-signing of coach Razvan Lucescu, PAOK have opted towards a fast attacking style of football, with players like Andrija Zivkovic, Chuba Akpom and Douglas Augusto forming a well-rounded attack. However, this fast playing style can often expose their defence. Thus far in the season, PAOK have conceded 7 goals, compared to Olympiakos’ 3 goals. In their previous game against an in-form Volos team, PAOK comfortably gained a 4-1 advantage at half time, then conceded 3 goals in the second half to end the match in a 4-4 stalemate. The back line of Lucas Taylor, Fernando Varela, Giannis Michailidis, and Vieirinha have all shown potential weaknesses in Lucescu’s defensive system.
In previous meetings with the ‘Aspromavri’, Olympiakos has managed to win 1 out of the last 3 games, with the other two performances being quite disappointing and lacklustre. However, after last week’s Europa League meeting in Frankfurt, myself and other Olympiakos fans all around the world are expecting a performance that reminds us of the capability of our current team to play a high-quality brand of football. We have seen glimpses of this throughout the domestic and European campaign, and hope to see more on Sunday.
It is clear that Frankfurt were able to easily predict and anticipate Olympiakos’ play style. Despite the depth that the squad has this year, and the sheer levels of talent, we have yet to see all players gel together and play at their maximum potential. Going into the match against PAOK, expect to see some tactical changes from Pedro Martins that limit the ability for opposition teams to easily read and predict our strategies going into crucial matches.
We may finally get to see Gary Rodrigues play some significant minutes for the team, after it was reported that his training at Rentis this week was highly successful, and Martins has specific plans of how to play the Cape Verdean winger against PAOK.
Securing the 3 points at home without fans will be a difficult task for the red and white, however, following previous poor performances, and the rivalry that has been built up against PAOK, I believe the team will be able to find that extra gear and fight to win the game. Following PAOK’s recent positive form, a win will give us somewhat of a breathing space (for now) at the top of the table. PAOK is not a team that should be underestimated, and we all know from previous occurrences, on their day they can pose a significant challenge for opposition teams. I am quite eager to see what tricks the ‘Professor’ Pedro Martins has up his sleeve to recover from a defeat and assert dominance once again in the Super League.
I am optimistic that Olympiakos will come out extremely hungry for a win at home against rivals PAOK, with the final score being 3-1.