Europa League Preview: Olympiacos - Osmanlispor

Europa League PREVIEW:
Olympiacos - Osmanlispor

 

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 32 (LEG 1)

Olympiacos 1:00 PM (EST) Osmanlispor
Thurs, 16-Feb

Georgios Tsitsonis from AGONAsport.com brings you a full preview for Olympiacos’ first leg matchup against Osmanlispor in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

 

OVERVIEW
 

After establishing domestic dominance for yet another season, Olympiacos will attempt again to make a splash in Europe as they prepare to face Osmanlispor on Thursday. 13 points ahead of their nearest rivals in the Greek SuperLeague and sure bets to win the title, Paulo Bento’s side will still feel the weight of expectation ahead of their first leg match-up with the Turkish club in the Europa League’s Round of 32.

Supporters have become accustomed to winning the league on a yearly basis and thus want to see a team playing attractive football and making a run in Europe. The team’s current style of play has not won many admirers this season. Thus, advancing to the Round of 16 or to the last 8 in the Europa League would serve to placate fans who want more than just domestic dominance. 

The visitors coming to the Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday are European first-timers with the exception of an Intertoto Cup run in 2005. The Ankara side’s inexperience in continental play didn’t matter however in the Group Stage. Osmanlispor finished top of their group which included Villarreal, FC Zurich, and Steaua Bucharest. Mustafa Resit Akcay has put together a solid unit who will have belief of progressing further in this tournament.

A recent loss of form however will be of concern. The club are winless in the Turkish Super Lig since Christmas as they have slipped down to 9th in the table. The word from Turkey though is that Akcay and the club are heavily prioritizing the Europa League and are not as concerned this season with their league finish as now a European spot seems unlikely.
 


TEAM NEWS
 

Olympiacos: The big news out of the Olympiacos camp is the absence of Brown Ideye and Stefano Kapino for this crucial match. The Nigerian suffered a knock at the weekend against Larisa and has been ruled out. 

Meanwhile, Kapino suffered a late knock in training on Tuesday and since he won’t return for 10 days, will miss both legs against the Turks. 

Oscar Cardozo is set to take Ideye’s place in the starting eleven, though Bento has been known to spring a surprise or two with his team selections. There won’t be any surprise with Kapino’s replacement as the Italian goalkeeper, Nicola Leali, will step in to take his place. 

Another player missing for Olympiacos is Tarik Elyounoussi. The Norwegian winger was also injured against Larisa and has been unable to recover in time to make the cut. Alberto Botia has been battling a bout of sickness over the last couple days. His situation does not appear very serious though and he still seems to be a favorite to start come Thursday. Manuel da Costa will not play due to suspension.

Osmanlispor: The good news for Osmanlispor is the return of Badou Ndiaye to the squad. It’s no surprise that Ndiaye’s absence for much of January due to his appearances for Senegal in the African Cup of Nations coincided with a real downturn in the team’s form. The midfielder is the driving force of this side and his presence means this is an altogether different team than the one recently stuttering in the Turkish Super Lig and Turkish Cup.

On the injury front, Akcay will be without a trio of key players. Portuguese defender Tiago Pinto and Nigerian winger Amini Umar will both miss Thursday’s match.  In addition to their absence, Turkish youth international Tugay Kacar is also not available for selection.


POTENTIAL LINE-UPS
 

Olympiacos: Leali, Figueiras, Botia, Viana, Sissokho, Retsos, Martins, Fortounis, Androutsos, Seba, Cardozo

Osmanlispor: Karcemarskas, Vrsajevic, Curuksu, Demir, Bayir, Guven, Bifouma, Cagiran, Ndiaye, Regattin, Webo


THE REFEREE
 

The man in the middle for this match will be French referee Ruddy Buquet. This will be the first time the 40-year-old takes charge of a European match involving a Greek side. Buquet has refereed two matches in this season’s Champions’ League (Real Madrid-Legia Warsaw 5-1 and Leicester-Club Brugge 2-1) as well as one match from the Europa League (Viktoria Plzen-Roma 1-1). Buquet has been a full-time FIFA referee since 2011 and Ligue 1 since 2008.


RECENT FORM
 

Olympiacos: WDWWWD

  • 2/11/17 Olympiacos-Larisa 2-0 (Greek Super League)
  • 2/8/17 Olympiacos-Atromitos 0-0 (Greek Cup Quarterfinal 1st Leg)
  • 2/5/17 Olympiacos-Iraklis 3-0 (Greek Super League)
  • 2/2/17 Olympiacos-Aris 2-0 (Greek Cup Round of 16 2nd Leg)
  • 1/29/17 Veria-Olympiacos 1-2 (Greek Super League)
  • 1/25/17 Aris-Olympiacos 1-1 (Greek Cup Round of 16 1st Leg)

Osmanlispor: LLDWLL

  • 2/11/17 Osmanlispor-Trabzonspor 0-1 (Turkish Super Lig)
  • 2/5/17 Kasimpasa-Osmanlispor 1-0 (Turkish Super Lig) 
  • 1/29/17 Genclerbirligi-Osmanlispor 1-1 (Turkish Super Lig)
  • 1/25/17 Osmanlispor-Kirklarelispor 3-0 (Turkish Cup Group A)
  • 1/22/17 Osmanlispor-Antalyaspor 1-2 (Turkish Super Lig)
  • 1/16/17 Gaziantepspor-Osmanlispor 2-0 (Turkish Cup Group A)

PREVIOUS MEETINGS
 

This is the first time the two sides will meet each other. 


WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
 

Stefanos Kapino (Olympiacos GK): “We are beginning a difficult set of matches with this game. We look at each match separately and try to take on what our coach has said to us so we can play a good match starting on Thursday. We can’t rate any team by only their reputation, we were punished doing so last summer in the Champions’ League qualifiers. Osmanlispor is a good team that even Villarreal could not beat in the Group Stage. The name and reputation of the club means nothing, it also means nothing that they haven’t been doing well in their domestic league. We want a good result on Thursday to bring to the return leg the following week.”
 

Mustafa Rasit Akcay  (Osmanlispor Manager): “The style of football that Olympiacos plays is similar to ours, they play like we do. The forwards are very mobile and the midfielders and defenders control the game. 

With the experience my players have they can handle the pressure. We must be ready because their supporters can make a lot of noise.”
 


PREDICTIONS
 

Much of what happens in this 1st leg will more than likely be determined by which Olympiacos side shows up. The one that been very solid to superb in derby matches this season or the team that has performed subpar against the weaker clubs in the SuperLeague, but still managed to get results.

Against Osmanlispor, a strong performance will be required. While they are certainly not a European powerhouse and Olympiacos has a vast edge in the experience department, ‘the Ottomans’, as they are known, deserve respect.

It has been against teams in recent years where the Erythrolefki have been favored in Europe where they have been their most disappointing. If they can use home advantage to ride to even a narrow victory then confidence will be high for the return leg in a week. 

Ultimately, in the absence of Ideye, the likes of Kostas Fortounis and Seba must produce for the club. With Bento also putting his faith in youth, the young Greek players in the side need to grow up fast. All in all, this should be a close affair with the Greek side just shading it on the night.


TV LISTINGS
 

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by: Giorgos Tsitsonis. Contact the writer at tsitsonisg.agonasport@gmail.com
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