Acorde O Sr. Martins
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the Olympiacos’ disappointing draw against a young Panathinaikos side and the heavy blame that falls on coach Pedro Martins.
Wake up Mr. Martins! Do you realize you are coaching Olympiacos - Greece’s most successful club? Do you realize this is a club that has had more championship winning seasons than not? This isn't some mid-table team that wants to squeeze victories; we want our wins but we want quality football!
After a 5-1 romping of Dudelland last Thursday, many Olympiacos fans hoped that the team’s scoring misfortunes would finally change for the better. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Kostas Fortounis, Ahmed Hassan, and Daniel Podence were a diamond of fire in the Europa League game. The Reds put their fate in their own hands for qualification. A point in Spain followed by a victory against Milan at home for Matchday 6 would have Olympiacos go to the Round of 32.
After the win, the focus was set on the derby against Panathinaikos. It has been two years since the Thrylos has beaten their eternal rivals and the fans were finally ready to get one over the Greens.
The way the team was set to start, you’d think Pedro Martins was thinking that he was playing against Barcelona. Bibras Natcho has shown flashes of brilliance coming off the bench, and it was only a matter of time before he would force Martin’s hand to have him in the Starting XI. The downside to Natcho in the starting lineup would be that either Lazaros Christodoulopoulos or Mady Camara would be forced to sit on the bench. So what does Martins do? He keeps both them both on the bench. Christodoulopoulos, having grown up an Olympiacos fan and having played for the Greens was pumped for this one, and Camara has been an absolute beast in the midfield position.
You’re playing an inexperienced and let’s be honest, minimally skilled Panathinaikos team and you feel the need to play with two defensive midfielders? Andreas Bouchalakis has a solid break-out pass to kickstart an attack but he is dispensable when you have Guilherme playing next to him. Consequently, Fortounis also looked lost when he was on the wings; something we had seen with coach Paulo Beto as well in 2016. Natcho has a solid first pass but his lungs are not quite there yet - and there is no guarantee they ever will be. A much more wise XI would have had Hassan start up top, and would have included an in-form Christodoulopoulos playing the flanks with Podence. Fortounis would have been roaming behind the striker - where the Greek International from Trikala always does his most damage. Guilherme (or Camara) and Natcho would have been more than solid in the middle; let’s not forget that the Israeli international plays a defensive midfielder role while playing for his National Team.
Domination but Limited Chances
If you take away Daniel Podence’s one-on-one chance in the 38th minute, the Erythrolefki didn’t have any chances in the first half. They had the ball control, but this did not equate to creating chances. To no one’s surprise, the Greens came to park the bus at the Karaiskakis Stadium. In the second half and with the crowd roaring on, Martins’ team went for the juggernaut but was unable to score. An unfortunate play in the 51st minute led to Panathinaikos’ goalkeeper, Sokratis Dioudis, being carted off and taken to the hospital. The momentum was gone and a lucky, but impressive, strike from Ergys Kace gave the Greens a lead they did not deserve.
Salvaging the Point
After seeing Panathinaikos’ unwillingness to pass into the offensive half, Pedro Martins moved center defender Pape Abou Cisse to become the second striker next to Dimitrios Manos. This filled Panathinaikos’ box with crosses and the Greens were barely hanging on. A clear handball by striker Federico Macheda should have been called for a penalty in the 84th minute, but Swiss referee Adrien Jaccottet wrongfully missed it - a tragic mistake. As most of you know, Cisse ultimately scored the tying goal in the 94th minute - in a game that looked like had it lasted another 10 minutes, Olympiacos would have inevitably scored.
Disappointingly, for us Red fans we will have to settle for a point. Looking at Panathinaikos’ roster and style of play, you almost have to feel bad - had you put on PAS Giannina jerseys on the Greens yesterday, you wouldn't have notice a difference. The chances on goal were 17-3 in favor of Olympiacos but the score is all that matters.
Pedro Martins needs to take a good part of the blame. He was quick to judge the officials (and Lord knows they were not perfect) but seemed satisfied with his players and with his selections. Anything but a win against Panathinaikos used to be unacceptable back in the Tryfilli's glory days - imagine how disappointing a tie seems like today when your rivals are a shell of what they used to be.
After the game, the players went to salute Gate 7, a gesture they have done after all home matches this season. The fans voiced their displeasure and there was no festive atmosphere. This week will surely get worse for Evangelos Marinakis' team as they will most likely have 3 points deducted from the SuperLeague for the ''fan violence'' that occured in Patra. A win against Panathinaikos might not have salvaged the season, it would have given, however, Pedro Martins his first derby win. It would have also give the team from Piraeus, their first derby win on the pitch since… October of 2017 - 13 months and counting of mediocrity.