OLY-FCB Preview: Valverde Returns To The Karaiskakis

OLY-FCB Preview: Valverde Returns To The Karaiskakis
 

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - GROUP D (MATCHDAY 4)

Olympiacos 3:45 PM (EST) Barcelona
Tuesday, 31-Oct

AGONAsport's George Tsitsonis brings you a full preview for Olympiacos' UEFA Champions League Matchday 4 fixture against Barcelona.

Watch the Champions League fixture between Olympiacos & Barcelona LIVE from AGONAsport.com on Tuesday, October 31st. Details here!    

 

OVERVIEW
 

Ernesto Valverde comes back to the Karaiskakis Stadium on Tuesday night, bringing his Barcelona side to his old stomping grounds. Olympiacos face off against one of the world’s biggest clubs on Matchday 4 while also going up against the club’s former manager.

Valverde is a much-loved figure amongst Thrylos supporters having led the club to a collection of trophies in two stints. However, at Olympiacos the reunion with the beloved Valverde will be a side story. The club is in true crisis mode on the pitch having endured a terrible start to their league campaign. Saturday’s 1-0 derby defeat to Panathinaikos was the latest in a string of domestic losses the team have suffered to start the season.

Takis Lemonis’ team are five points off the pace in the Greek Super League and can not seem to find any consistency in their results. While the race for the title is not even at the halfway point, the truth is that this team look as disjointed as ever and are running the risk of falling further behind due to their poor form.

In Europe, it isn’t much different for Olympiacos. In a group with Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, and Barcelona they have not been embarrassed, but they haven’t been able to challenge yet either. The club are pointless after three matches and now must take on one of European football’s biggest and in-form teams.

Valverde has his new club firing on all cylinders at home and in European play. Despite all sorts of drama in the summer transfer window where the club lost Neymar to PSG, Barca have put all that behind them to start the season magnificently. Valverde’s tactical tweaks and squad rotation along with the individual brilliance of Lionel Messi and some cohesive football by his teammates have Barcelona fans dreaming of picking up trophies at season’s end. 


TEAM NEWS
 

Olympiacos

Seba will continue his recovery from a knee injury and miss out for Lemonis’ side. In attack, Odjidja-Ofoe was selected as the most advanced player at the Camp Now two weeks ago. He will return to his central midfield position. Lemonis could start with Iranian striker Karim Ansarifard up front. While Emmanuel Emenike came back in time from his injury to play against Panathinaikos at the weekend, Lemonis appears set to give Ansarifard the starting nod.

Barcelona

The big absence for Barcelona will be that of Gerard Pique. The Spanish international picked up a red card on Matchday 3 for an intentional hand-ball. His spot in the starting eleven is almost certain to be taken by Javier Mascherano. Andres Iniesta is ruled out of this match due to a recent injury whileGerard Deulofeu was rested at the weekend against Bilbao and will likely be selected for this Matchday 4 clash. Barcelona still have the long-term absences of Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha to contend with. 


POTENTIAL LINE-UPS
 

Olympiacos: Proto, Elabdellaoui, Engels, Botia, Koutris; Romao, Odjidja-Ofoe, Pardo, Fortounis, Androutsos; Ansarifard

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Roberto, Mascherano, Umtiti, Digne; Paulinho, Busquets, Rakitic; Deulofeu, Suarez, Messi


RECENT RESULTS
 

Olympiacos LWWLW

10/28/17 Panathinaikos-Olympiacos 1-0 (Greek Super League)
10/25/17 Acharnaikos-Olympiacos 0-3 (Greek Cup)
10/22/17 Olympiacos-PAOK 1-0 (Greek Super League)
10/18/17 Barcelona-Olympiacos 3-1 (UEFA Champions’ League)
10/14/17 Panionios-Olympiacos 3-4 (Greek Super League)

Barcelona WWWWD

10/28/17 Athletic Bilbao-Barcelona 0-2 (Spanish La Liga)
10/24/17 Real Murcia-Barcelona 0-3 (Copa del Rey)
10/21/17 Barcelona-Malaga 2-0 (Spanish La Liga)
10/18/17 Barcelona-Olympiacos 3-1 (UEFA Champions’ League)
10/14/17 Atletico Madrid-Barcelona 1-1 (Spanish La Liga)


PREVIOUS MEETINGS
 

The two team’s have met only one time and that was this season on Matchday 3. On that night, Barcelona strolled to a 3-1 victory despite having to play a man down for over half the match due to Pique’s red card.


OUTLOOK
 

Olympiacos really couldn’t be playing Barcelona at a worse time. Valverde has his side off to a wonderful start in Spain and in the Champions’ League and Messi is in absolutely blistering form. To make matters worse, Olympiacos are enduring their worst league start in decades and have lost all three Champions’ League matches thus far. Nothing is going right for the defending Greek champions.

At least the players can count on a full house at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Tuesday night. It’s not every day Barcelona comes to town and the atmosphere inside the ground should be electric. Can Olympiacos turn back the clock and find a way to inspire a memorable European night at home? Based on current for, the answer is probably no. Once again, a decent display full of energy and commitment would be applauded by fans in hopes that something could finally kickstart this team’s woeful season to date. A win would be a minor sporting miracle, a draw a wonderful result, but all Olympiacos supporters really want at this point is a display that gives reason to be hopeful. 


WHERE TO WATCH
 

Watch it live from AGONAsport here, available WORLDWIDE except in Greece and Cyprus! Full TV listings for the USA, Canada, Australia, and Greece can be found here.


 
by: Giorgos Tsitsonis.
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