Panetolikos vs Olympiakos: Super League Greece PreviewWarm-up before Europe
After a midweek European disappointment in Frankfurt, followed by a crucial derby win back in Piraeus against PAOK, our beloved Thrylos are back in action this weekend as they travel to Agrinio to face league strugglers Panetolikos. With a return leg at home against Frankfurt to think about for coach Pedro Martins, there is hope that the Portuguese tactician will make a few more rotations to the lineup going into this game to rest key players for a much bigger fish to fry midweek. That being said, it is still hugely important that the Greek champions put this game to bed as quickly and professionally as possible to maintain the slim lead at the top of the Super League table, with AEK breathing down our necks.
Last League Encounter
The Erythrolefki’s previous matchup against the Canaries in the league was a little closer than people may remember. It too was played out in Agrinio, with Olympiakos fielding a rotated side. The visitors took an early lead through Kostas Fortounis and controlled much of the first half. Thrylos would be shocked early on minutes after the break, however, as Panetolikos finished the move on the counter with a well taken shot from Ayem Tahar to equalise and make it 1-1.
After a nice passage of play from Thrylos midway through the second half, Valbuena found El Arabi as he was falling to the ground and the Moroccan striker slotted home to make it 1-2. Olympiakos were able to play out the rest of the match without too much trouble from the hosts. It must also be said that while this was the most recent league encounter, we would then play Panetolikos in the Greek Cup, where over two legs Thrlyos won 6-0 on aggregate.
Canaries Season So Far
After narrowly escaping the drop last season by overcoming Xanthi over two legs in the relegation playoffs, Panetolikos have started the 2021/22 season as many would have expected. After 7 matches they are languishing in 12th, level on points with 11th place Lamia and 2nd bottom Apollon Smyrni on 5 points. The side from Agrinio has only won two games in all competitions so far, with a victory against Atromitos and most recently in the Greek Cup against Panachaiki.
They have also conceded the joint most goals (with 4th place Volos) in the Super League so far at 15 while also having the 3rd worst goal difference thus far at -7. Despite being fairly porous at the back they have been able to score goals more constantly than most, boasting the 2nd best goal scoring record in the bottom 7 sides at 8, only bettered by Aris 10. The dangerman Olympiakos should watch out for is certainly former youth prospect Nikos Vergos, who has averaged a goal every other game this season for the Canaries so far.
This match will be a great opportunity for Martins to rest key players for Thursday’s clash in the Europa League with Frankfurt. I personally would like to see the likes of Tzolakis, Karbownik, Androutsos, Kunde, and even Rony Lopes given a run out this weekend, although knowing how Pedro Martins manages his squad, that much roatition is unlikely to happen. Thanks to the midweek Greek Cup games where a number of Super League sides competed, we will be playing our away tie with Panetolikos on Saturday rather than the usual Sunday match day, which means the team gets an extra day's rest to prepare for Europe. Judging by our previous record with our upcoming opponents, who have once again struggled this season domestically, I am going to predict that Olympiakos will run out comfortable 0-2 winners in Agrinio, maintaining our status as league leaders going into our revenge game against Frankfurt in Piraeus.