What Olympiacos and PAOK need to advance in Europa League
With one matchday remaining in the UEFA Europa League group stages, AGONAsport’s Sarantos Kaperonis looks at what Olympiacos and PAOK need in the final round of matches to advance to the knockout phase.
It was a tough matchday five week for Greek teams in Europe as all three representatives tasted defeat. AEK were handed a 0:2 spanking at the OAKA stadium to Ajax and were mathematically eliminated from all European competitions while Olympiacos fell 1:0 to Real Betis and Chelsea were thrashed 4:0 by Chelsea. Despite Olympiacos and PAOK’s losses, both teams remain alive for a place in the Europa League knockout stages going into the group stage finale.
Olympiacos sit third in their respective UEFA Europa League group with seven points while Real Betis lead the group with 11 points and AC Milan are second with 10 points. Dudelange sit in last place with zero points. Real Betis have already secured progression to the next round and it will be either AC Milan or Olympiacos who will earn the second and final ticket to the knockout stages.
What Olympiacos Need: Olympiacos host AC Milan on the final matchday in what is set to be a mouth watering finale in the group. The Erythrolefki fully control their own fate and will not need any help from the group’s other match between Real Betis and Dudelange in Luxembourg. To advance to the knockout stages, Olympiacos need to defeat AC Milan by two or more goals to overturn their 3:1 defeat in Italy on matchday two. A Milan win, draw, or loss by one goal will see the Italian giants through to the next round.
Explanation: An Olympiacos win over Milan will mean the two teams are tied on 10 points. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head record, which would be tied with a win for each team. The second tie-breaker is goal differential in the matches between the two teams and with Milan having won the first game 3:1, Olympiacos will also need to defeat Milan by two (or more) goals. The third tie breaker is more away goals scored in the matches between the two teams. With Olympiacos housing one away goal, a simple 2:0 win in Piraeus will be enough. However, if Milan score two goals at the Karaiskakis, Olympiacos will need to defeat Milan by 3 goals (i.e. 5:2, 6:3 etc).
If the match ends in a 3:1 result in favor of Olympiacos, then the away goals would be tied (one goal each) and the deadlock will go to a fourth tie-breaker, which is overall goal differential from all the group matches. Milan’s current goal differential is +5 (11:6) whereas Olympiacos are at +3 (8:5). If the Greek side win by 3:1 over Milan (a must for this fourth tie breaker to be relevant), Olympiacos will move to +5 (11:6) whereas Milan would drop to +3 (12:9), meaning the Piraeus club will advance to the knockout stages.
PAOK sit bottom of their respective UEFA Europa League group with three points while Chelsea lead the group with a perfect 15 points and BATE and Vidi are tied with 6 points (BATE are second due to a better head-to-head record). Chelsea have already secured top spot in the group and it will be a fight between BATE, Vidi, and PAOK for second spot and the final ticket to the knockout stages.
What PAOK Need: Unlike Olympiacos, PAOK do not control their own fate and will need help from the group’s other match on the final matchday between Vidi and Chelsea. PAOK host BATE needing only a victory to stay alive in the fight for second place, however, for PAOK to advance, Vidi must also lose to Chelsea in Hungary. A Vidi win or draw will mean PAOK are eliminated regardless of the result in Thessaloniki.
Explanation: If PAOK win and Vidi lose, this will result in a three way tie between PAOK, Vidi, and BATE, each team with six points. The first tie-breaker will be results between the three teams, which is even with six points a piece, meaning the deadlock will be broken by the next tie-breaker, best goal differential taking in account only the games between the three teams. Here, PAOK will emerge victorious after they defeat BATE (only if they defeat BATE will this tie-breaker be relevant).
When taking into account only matches between the three teams, PAOK currently sit with a 0 goal differential (+3 v. BATE and -3 vs. Vidi). A second PAOK win over BATE will bring the Thessalonikis at minimum up to +1. BATE currently sit at +1 (-3 vs PAOK and +4 vs. Vidi), but with a loss to PAOK, they will at minimum move to an even (zero) goal differential. On the other hand, Vidi are locked in at a -1 goal differential (+3 vs PAOK and -4 vs. BATE). Thus, PAOK’s +1 goal differential will see them finish second in the group with a simple win over BATE and a Vidi loss again Chelsea.