Pas Giannina - Olympiakos Preview
Historically-speaking, travelling to Ioannina hasn’t always been a walk in the park for Olympiacos. In their 25 visits to Zosimades Stadium, the Erythrolefki have 11 wins, 7 ties and 7 losses. Though recent history has been kinder to the Legend, this fixture is a perfect example of what we mean when we say the games that win championships. Sure, derbies are a joy to win, but these road games against the smaller clubs will ultimately decide who will win the Greek League.
Just last season, Olympiacos dropped two points when travelling to Epirus in a controversial 1-1 draw during Matchday 4. Last January, it took a 93rd minute header from Ahmed Hassan to give the Legend a 1-0 victory at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. Already in the new campaign, PAS Giannina have shocked PAOK at Toumba Stadium with a 0-1 victory and have defeated Panathinaikos at home, 1-0. In their past three games, they’ve remained unbeaten drawing Ionikos, OFI Crete and Atromitos Athens.
Iraklis Metaxas, who took over the manager role after Argyris Giannikis stepped down last May, has Ajax of Epirus playing formidable football. Metaxas is of Greek-German descent and climbed the German coaching ranks as an assistant in Bochum, Freiburg, and with a strong German football mentality.
PAS Giannina have steadily used a 4-4-2 this season, with many familiar faces. Yuri Lodygin, who had a brief spell as the Olympiacos backup keeper in 2018-19, is their main starting keeper. The centre back duo of Rodrigo Erramuspe and Giannis Kargas have started in all five of their Superleague matches with Marvin Peersman and Manolis Saliakas playing the wing-back positions. In the midfield, Juan Dominguez commands the centre of the Ipirotes. Finally, former Panathinaikos striker Juan Perea, along with PAS Giannina legend, Pedro Conde make up the duo striker attack; though the latter is expected to miss Sunday’s game.
It'll be interesting to see if Metaxas decides to play with the more attacking 4-4-2 or if he decides to park the bus against Pedro Martins’s team – something PAS hasn’t done this season.
Back to Reality
Olympiakos’s season has been nothing but a roller coaster ride so far. The highs have been met with the lows and consistency is still something sought out in Piraeus. Pedro Martins had 15 players travel abroad during the international break – the most of any Superleague side. In the past, Olympiakos has often struggled after international breaks and this is something the Portuguese manager is hoping changes.
The worry after these international breaks is often the fitness of the players. Thankfully, nothing bad to report when it comes to the injury or the Covid-19 side of things. After yesterday’s team practice, it doesn’t look like Martins is looking to rest any key players against PAS Giannina. The 46-time Greek champions will travel to Germany on Thursday to face Eintracht Frankfurt for Matchday 3 of the Europa League and will host rivals PAOK in Piraeus on October 24th.
Trailing the Dikefaloi tou Vorra in the Greek Superleague standings, the last thing Martins wants is to drop points at Zosimades, therefore the strongest possible Starting XI is to be expected. We have seen Olympiakos struggle against teams that attempt to park the bus so Sunday’s game will be a nail-bitter to say the least.
PAS Giannina – Olympiakos (1-2)
I expect a hard fought and gritty game with the Legend coming out on top.