The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful, The Impossible - Breaking Down Olympiacos’ UCL Draw
After defeating Partizan Belgrade and Rijeka in the last two qualifying rounds, Olympiacos have assured themselves a return to the UEFA Champions’ League after missing out last season.
It is job done for Besnik Hasi and his players and up next is the competition draw where Olympiacos will learn the identity of their Group Stage opponents.
Thursday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland will see the 32 teams qualified for the Group Stage be placed into eight groups of four teams. The draw begins with the teams separated into four pots. Olympiacos find themselves in Pot 3 alongside seven other teams. Here is a breakdown of the Pots 1-4.
Pot 1: Real Madrid (ESP), Bayern Munich (GER), Chelsea (ENG), Juventus (ITA), Benfica (POR)
Monaco (FRA), Spartak Moscow (RUS), Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Pot 2: , Barcelona (ESP), Atletico Madrid (ESP), PSG (FRA), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Sevilla (ESP), Manchester City (ENG), FC Porto (POR), Manchester United (ENG)
Pot 3: Napoli (ITA), Tottenham (ENG), Basel (SUI), OLYMPIACOS (GRE), Anderlecht (BEL), Liverpool (ENG), Roma (ITA), Besiktas (TUR)
Pot 4: Celtic (SCO), CSKA Moscow (RUS), Qarabag (AZE), Sporting Lisbon (POR), APOEL (CYP), Feyenoord (NED), Maribor (SVN), Leipzig (GER)
Right off the bat, it’s clear that even they though they are respectable sides, everyone in Pots 2-4 will be hoping to be grouped with either Shakhtar Donetsk or Spartak Moscow. They are clearly preferred to the alternative, which is basically the cream of the crop of European football.
It’s a similar situation in Pot 2. Sevilla and Porto are not easy sides by any stretch and both have a rich tradition in European competition. It remains a fact though that they probably lack a little of the shock and awe that the likes of Barcelona, PSG, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, and Manchester City bring to the table.
As for preferred teams in Pot 4, certainly Olympiacos will be looking at Maribor and Qarabag as the teams they would like to face. APOEL will be wanted by many other clubs, but Olympiacos will have bad memories of facing the Cypriot team last season in the Europa League. The likes of Celtic, Feyenoord, CSKA Moscow, Sporting Lisbon and RB Leipzig are all respectable opponents who would be very difficult to come up against.
Taking a glance at the Pots, AGONAsport gives visitors a breakdown of four different mock draw scenarios that Olympiacos could get.
THE IMPOSSIBLE: Real Madrid, PSG, Olympiacos, Leipzig
Impossible is nothing. That was the unofficial slogan of Greece’s EURO 2004 side. And truth be told, there really isn’t an impossible draw. However, this could be one that borders on that for the Greek champions.
Real, PSG, and Leipzig could arguably be the worst draw Olympiacos would get tomorrow. Of course, Leipzig has not yet made a massive impact on Europe, however as one of European football’s ‘nouveau riche’, the German side is clearly taking aim at becoming one of the continent’s elite teams.
Real is….Real, the two-time defending European champions who look to be on top of their game and who are the world’s best side at the moment. PSG is heavily targeting the Champions’ League, what with the small matter of acquiring Brazilian superstar Neymar, shattering the world record transfer fee earlier this summer.
THE BAD: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Olympiacos, CSKA Moscow
Another potential draw that would appear to offer Olympiacos no chance to progress. CSKA are certainly a side which wouldn’t strike fear into Olympiacos, however the Russians are also experienced CL performers and Moscow isn’t exactly a place you’d want to travel to for say Matchday 5 in late November.
This group would at least offer a chance for Olympiacos to go through as the 3rd-placed finisher thereby earning a spot in the Europa League knockout stage. As for Bayern Munich and Barcelona, there isn’t much to say. Both sides have had poor summers either on the pitch in friendlies or off the pitch with transfer troubles. That said, these two remain two of the biggest clubs in the world and Olympiacos would have to produce the shock of shocks in order to advance.
THE HOPEFUL: Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla, Olympiacos, Qarabag
This draw would give Olympiacos a real chance of progression to the knockout rounds. Shakhtar and Sevilla would still be big favorites to advance, but the Greek champs would have reason to be hopeful here as they would have avoided stronger sides in Pots 1 and 2. A club like Qarabag are to be respected, but Olympiacos would believe in beating them out for 3rd at least and perhaps having a crack at one of the top two spots in the group.
THE GOOD: Spartak Moscow, Porto, Olympiacos, Maribor
Probably the best draw Olympiacos could ask for. The scary part is that even a draw like this would still offer no guarantees. A top-two finish here would still be quite the triumph for the Greeks, though again they would be begin as underdogs. Maribor did well to advance to the Group Stage, but if Olympiacos are to do anything during this latest CL campaign then surely they must be able to beat a team like that.