Olympiacos attempt to finish the job against Basaksehir
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - 3RD QUALIFYING ROUND (LEG 2)
Armed with a 1-0 advantage after a first leg away victory, Olympiacos aim to finish the job on Tuesday night in the return fixture against Basaksehir in order to advance to the Champions’ League play-offs.
Giorgos Masouras’ second half strike gave Pedro Martins’ side a famous win in Turkey last Wednesday at the Fatih Terim Stadium. Now, the Erythrolefki return home in hopes of clinching a spot in the final qualifying round before the Champions’ League Group Stage where the winner of Porto-Krasnodar will await (Porto lead 1-0 on aggregate after they too won away in the first leg).
In truth, Olympiacos rode their luck at times in the first leg encounter and had goalkeeper Jose Sa to thank for some splending saves, including a crucial injury-time penalty stop from Edin Visca. Martins’ gameplan worked however and Olympiacos appeared ready for such a high-profile battle even at this early stage of the season. Masouras picked his moment and few would begrudge that the Greek side deserved something from the match based on their display.
It will be an interesting night at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium as the Turkish club will need to push forward in search for the goal that will keep them in the tie. Olympiacos on the other hand can afford to be a bit more patient and exploit the space on counter-attacks as they attempted to do in the first leg.
With the likes of Robinho, Visca, and Demba Ba in their squad, Basaksehir have no shortage of attacking talent in their squad. Whether they can find their goalscoring touch up front though remains to be seen. Olympiacos will be buoyed by a packed crowd and along with the first leg advantage, should put them into the driver’s seat heading into the decisive second leg.
Team News: Olympiacos
Kostas Fortounis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos are the long-term injured players in the squad and will miss out. Other than that Martins can select from a full side especially since winger Daniel Podence overcame a slight knock that had been threatening his availability. Some changes by Martins have been rumored, but the smart money is that the Portuguese coach sticks with the same starting eleven that did the job in Turkey.
Possible Line-up: Sá, Elabdellaoui, Semedo, Meriah, Tsimikas, Guilherme, Bouchalakis, Podence, Valbuena, Masouras, Guerrero.
Team News: Basaksehir
Moldovan center-back Alexandru Epureanu remains a long-term absentee after continuing to struggle with a knee issue dating from last season. This has led to something of a defensive headache for manager Okan Buruk. Both Buruk and defender Aurelien Chedjou were given red cards at the end of last week’s match for insulting the referee. Both men will watch from the sidelines as will midfielder Irfan Kahveci who was sent off during the match for a second bookable offense.
Possible Line-up: Günok, Caicara, Ucar, Ponck, Behich, Tekdemir, Azubuike, Visca, Robinho, Gulbrandsen, Crivelli
Referee: Bobby Madden (Scotland)
Scottish referee Bobby Madden will take charge of this all-important second leg clash. His appointment won’t be especially celebrated by Greek fans as in two previous matches involving clubs from Greece, both teams have tasted defeat. Both those matches came last season, AEK going down 1-0 to Benfica in the Champions’ League Group Stage and Olympiacos losing away to AC Milan 3-1 in the Europa League.
The 41-year-old Madden is a UEFA category 2 referee who began with FIFA in 2010.
Referee: Bobby Madden (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Douglas Ross (Scotland), David Roome
Fourth Official: Greg Aitken (Scotland)