Post Match Reaction: Pas Giannina vs Olympiakos
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Coming into the match at the Zosimades and facing an in-form and undefeated PAS Giannina is not an easy task for any team. We all knew that this match would be extremely tough and hard-fought for, and in the simplest of terms, the sixth match of Thrylos’ Superleague campaign truly lived up to these expectations. Olympiakos narrowly escaped the obstacle that Giannina posed, snatching a vital three points through a goal in the closing period of the game, from none other than the ‘Killer’ Youssef El-Arabi.
Pedro Martins started the game, opting to go for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Vaclik between the goal posts, and Lala, Papastathopoulos, Cisse, and Reabciuk in defence. Bouchalakis and Mady Camara held their crucial midfield positions, whilst Masouras, Onyekuru, and Aguibou ‘Baby’ Camara lined up behind an in-form Tiquinho.
In the opening minutes of the game, the red-and-white began extremely strong, with Henry Onyekuru making an explosive run, placing his shot into the arms of former Olympiakos goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin. After an arm-wrestle start to the game, Olympiakos finally broke the ice and gained a 1-0 advantage in the 17th minute, with a spectacular volley goal from young star Aguibou Camara. As much as the ‘Erythrolefkoi’ wanted to create their own rhythm and dictate the pace of the game, the Ajax of Epirus defended well, ending the first half with momentum and slightly more chances to equalise.
At the beginning of the second-half, Pedro Martins decided to change his strategic approach to the game, by replacing a quite frankly lacklustre Henry Onyekuru with Yann M’Vila, who had been sidelined in the previous weeks after sustaining an injury. In a change that proved to have won the game for Olympiakos, Yann M’Vila helped transition play from defence to attack, facilitating numerous attacking plays whilst controlling the midfield through his composure.
In the 60th minute, the Epirotes were awarded a very controversial penalty, following a sliding challenge from Reabciuk. The ball incidentally connected with his arm as he attempted to block a cross from entering a dangerous position. However, this can be reminiscent of an almost identical challenge that was not deemed a penalty by VAR, for PAS Giannina against Panathinaikos during Game-Week Two. Nonetheless, the penalty was calmly converted by PAS defender Rodrigo Erramuspe.
At a time when Olympiakos was looking for a spark to ignite a flame within the team and fight to secure the three points, none other than the ever-reliable Youssef El-Arabi was summoned into the game. Despite losing his starting position to an in-form Tiquinho, the ‘Pistolero’ entered the pitch, and immediately provided a threat to the Giannina defenders. After the crossbar denied Sokratis Papastathopoulos a goal, Olympiakos seemed to become more and more dangerous as the game concluded. In the 84th minute, a prolific El-Arabi secured the match winning goal and helped Olympiakos steal an important 3 points away from home, after an extremely hard fought 90 minutes of football.
In what was not the most ‘complete’ and well-rounded game we have seen from the squad, there are a myriad of positives to take away, as well as some clear points for improvement. A short-lived glimpse into what Garry Rodrigues is capable of has provided myself and Olympiakos fans all around the world a sense of excitement for what he can bring to the team, both domestically and in Europe.
After a vital win in Giannina, we must shift our focus to our clash with Eintracht Frankfurt, where we will be once again away from home in an extremely difficult matchup.