For the hazatrand.com website I’m now going to be writing about Olympiakos as well as Aston Villa. I guess you could call Olympiakos my second team, I started liking them after Olof Mellberg signed for the Red-Whites in 2009. If you want any background knowledge on the Greek Champions, check out the article I did for Back Page Football: http://backpagefootball.com/olympiacos-become-dominant-superleague/103478/
Arguably when the round of 16 was drawn, this was the biggest tie, or at least the one which would attract the most attention. The Greek Champions against the Turkish Champions.
Olympiakos, also known as Thrylos (legend) have never been beyond this stage of the Europa league. And its fair to say the Greek side didn’t have the best preparations for this game.
Manager Paulo Bento was sacked after losing 3 league games in a row. It goes to show how tough a job managing Olympiakos is. Which other team would sack their manager after being seven points clear at the top of the league? Maybe Celtic and that’s it. Vasilis Vouzas is currently standing in a caretaker manager.
It was the team from Istanbul who had most of the possession early on. The Piraeus rain seemed to dampen the contest somewhat, with both teams reluctant to attack.
However, the home side had the first real chance. Tarik Elyounassi ran at the Besiktas backline, through skipping past a defender. Unfortunately the Norwegian international mustered up a weak effort which rolled into the goalkeepers arms.
Despite that chance, I was still surprised when the home side took the lead. Veteran midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, who bossed the first half, made a late Frank Lampard esque run into the box and planted a header past Fabrico.
Thrylos defended really well in the opening 45. Diogo Figueiras particularly. The former Sevilla right-back did a good job in keeping Ryan Babel quiet down the right-flank.
In the second half it was clear that Besiktas had the greater appetite to score. Yet Olympiakos could have easily been 2-0 up before the hour mark. Alberto Botia’s diving header fell the wrong side of the post.
Sods law then that in the two minutes I go to get my quorn chicken nuggets out the cooker, Vincent Aboubakar equalizes for Besiktas.
Olympiakos’ goalkeeper Nicola Leali’s weak clearance fell straight to straight to Aboubakar. To be fair on Cameroonian striker, he still had it all to do, jinking onto his right foot before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
After that, the home side got a massive let off. Leali did really well to stop Ricardo Quaresma rounding him. Then the ball came to Ryan Babel, who’s shot was cleared off of the line.
Besiktas really upped their game in second half. Quaresma’s crosses were finding their targets. Talisca, a constant enigma, went close a few times for the away side.
Still, the Red-Whites low confidence was apparent, Kostas Fortounis didn’t look his usual self. Captain Alejandro Dominguez’ presence was really missed, a difference maker in midfield is what the home side really could have done with.
Luckily for the Greek Champions, Cenk Tosun failed to make his chance count when he came off the bench. The Black Eagles top scorer let Babel’s pass roll across his body, but his shot was blocked by Leali who had a decent game overall apart from his mistake.
In the end, a draw definitely suits Besiktas. Olympiakos now go into the away tie in Istanbul needing a goal and at least a draw. It’s a tough ask, but after what Barcelona did on Wednesday, it’s certainly not impossible.