The Best is Yet to Come
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about Olympiacos’ headline signing of Yaya Toure and the club’s good form to start the season.
Yaya Toure was standing next to Andreas Bouchalakis and Mary Camara, two players that risk losing their starting spots since the Ivorian star’s arrival. The thought of that didn’t cross anybody’s mind last Sunday. Last Sunday was a party and Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium was filled with only smiles.
Just hours earlier, nearly 5000 fans welcomed Yaya Toure back at the Olympiakos offices after a 12 year hiatus. Toure was in the suites during Olympiakos’s 5-0 thrashing of visiting side PAS Giannina. The Erythrolefki kept a pace that looked like it was already in mid-season form. The work of both wing backs, Omar Ellabdellaoui and Kostas Tsimikas, were key to the attack. Yassine Meriah and Jagos Vukovic look like they will be an unstoppable duo as Center-Backs this season. Bouchalakis and Camara once again ran relentlessly throughout the game and their constant pressing gave the ball right back to the feet of Kostas Fortounis, Daniel Podense and Giannis Fetfatzidis. The three attacking midfielders showed flair and the Reds were creating chances for 90 minutes which resulted in 5 goals. Miguel Angel Guerrero finally potted one in the 90th to cap off another solid performance.
Although the team is on the right track, it wasn’t all sunshine last week as there was some concern over the squad’s play in the second leg against Burnley. Olympiakos held a 3-1 lead going into England but their game was quite uninspiring in a 1-1 tie against the English side. To be fair, going to Turf Moor with a 3-1 lead creates a different set of circumstances that probably disabled Pedro Martins’s men from going all out; something we saw in the first game in Piraeus.
After their qualification to the Europa League group stage, Olympiakos awaited their fate in the draw. The team from Piraeus, which has the highest UEFA Coefficient points in all of Greece, was ranked in the top pot but landed with AC Milan and Real Betis. The fourth team is Dudelande from Luxembourg. The draw could have been much easier (see PAOK’s) and many are calling this group as close to a Champions League group as you can get in the Europa League. Martins’s team needs to be able to secure 9 points at home and hope for decent results to go through as even 12 points might not be enough to get through this group! The key of course is the first game which will be at home against Real Betis on September 20th.
After the Europa League obligations were complete, the focus shifted to Toure’s arrival and the Greek SuperLeague over the weekend. After seeing PAOK and AEK come away with wins, the Reds wanted to stay perfect as well in their heated title race. AEK’s win in Tripoli against Asteras was highlighted by a comedic penalty won by Petros Mantalos. For the second week in a row, the Arkades felt duped by officials after a soft call against PAOK cost them the opener on Matchday 1 as well.
Olympiakos took care of business against Giannis Petrakis’s side and whwn the game ended, it was time for a celebration. Savvas Theodoridis was speaking to reporters about how Toure turned down a dozen teams to come back to Piraeus. Toure thanked Evangelos Marinakis for all his efforts and mentioned how he wanted to be in match shape as soon as possible - early reports believe he is targeting the derby against PAOK on September 30th.
Detractors will be quick to point out how Toure is 35 years old and hasn’t played significant minutes in two years. For Olympiakos, this was not only a signing for the field; they expect Toure to be a locker room leader and a mentor to the younger players who are developing.
While many players leave other Greek sides and never look back, the stars that leave Olympiacos always keep a relationship with the team. We saw it this year with the returns of Kevin Mirallas, Vasilis Torosidis and now, Toure. Kostas Manolas has already stated he wants to end his career for the Erythrolefki and Lukas Milivojevic still claims he watches the side when he can. Signings like Toure’s can only make Olympiacos, Greece’s biggest team, even bigger on the global scale.
by Theo Bouras
Image Source: to10.gr