Olympiacos ready for Ukrainian visitors
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 32
|Olympiacos||19:55 (GR)||Dynamo Kyiv|
For the first time in two years, knockout football is back in Piraeus, as Olympiacos prepare to host Dynamo Kyiv in the Last 32 of the UEFA Europa League. AGONAsport previews the duel..
This is the chance to save a thoroughly underwhelming European campaign for Greek clubs. Initially, AEK, PAOK, Olympiacos, Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis began the season involved in continental competition, but now only one team remains.
The reaction to the Round of 32 draw was mixed. On one hand, this isn’t supposedly a great Dynamo Kyiv team, but on the other, the Ukrainians have a wealth of European experience in their DNA and defeated AEK in the same stage of last year’s competition.
Olympiacos have been preparing for this match on the back of a bitterly disappointing night in Thessaloniki. On Sunday, Olympiacos played Super League leaders PAOK at the Toumba Stadium, dropping a 1:3 defeat which has virtually ended all hopes of winning the championship. The Thrylos are nine points behind PAOK and their main domestic goal is maintaining second place which grants a UEFA Champions League berth.
Due to the winter break in the Ukrainian Premier League, Dynamo Kyiv haven’t played a competitive match since the 0:1 loss to Jablonec in the Europa League on December 13, 2018. The Ukrainian championship is set to resume at the weekend, and at the moment, Dynamo sit in a distant second position as they trail arch-rivals Shakhtar Donetsk by seven points.
Dynamo had started the 2018/2019 season in the Champions League, but after beating Slavia Prague in the third qualifying round, they then lost against Ajax in the playoffs to drop down into the Europa League. The Ukrainians got the job done in Group K, finishing in first place above Stade Rennes, FC Astana and Jablonec with 11 points.
Since the group phase, Dynamo Kyiv have made two changes to their squad for the Europa League, removing the departed Vladyslav Kalitvintsev (released) and Mykola Morozyuk (transferred to Rizespor) from the squad, and replacing them with new signing Fran Sol and youth player Mykyta Kravchenko. Viktor Tsygankov, Denys Garmash and Benjamin Verbic were Dynamo’s top scorers in Group K with three goals apiece.
Placed in a tough Group F with Real Betis, AC Milan and Dudelange, Olympiacos had to work extremely hard to make the Last 32, clinching qualification on matchday six. Needing to beat Milan by two clear goals, the Erythrolefkoi managed to achieve a memorable, historic victory, winning 3:1. Olympiacos registered 10 points and took second place behind Betis.
Olympiacos had beaten FC Luzern and Burnley in the two preliminary rounds in the summer.
TEAM NEWS: OLYMPIACOS
Right-back Omar Elabdellaoui misses out through injury, but on a brighter note, midfielder Konstantinos Fortounis has been declared fit enough to play. On Wednesday morning, Avraam Papadopoulos and Franco Soldano were included in the roster for the match, but Olympiacos later removed them from the squad. The pair weren’t registered for Europa League eligibility.
Olympiacos will need to make history if they’re to emerge victorious on Thursday. In the past, the Thrylos have played Ukrainian opposition on five occasions at home, failing to win any of those games as they took two draws and three losses. Dynamo are notoriously strong in Kyiv, so to give themselves a realistic chance of qualifying, Olympiacos really do need to build up an advantage ahead of the trip to Ukraine.
Possible line-up: Sa, Torosidis, Vukovic, Cisse, Tsimikas, Camara, Guilherme, Fortounis, Dias, Podence, Hassan.
TEAM NEWS: DYNAMO KYIV
In his press-conference, manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich revealed that injured Brazilian midfielder Vitor Bueno is unable to play, however a final decision on key Hungarian defender Tamas Kadar will be taken after training in Piraeus. New signing Fran Sol is expected to lead the Dynamo attacking line.
Possible line-up: Boyko, Mykolenko, Kadar, Burda, Kedziora, Tche Tche, Tsygankov, Bulyalskyy, Sidcley, Verbic, Sol.
REFEREE: CRAIG PAWSON (ENG)
Englishman Craig Pawson will oversee proceedings at the Karaiskakis Stadium. This season, the 39-year-old worked over the Monaco - Borussia Dortmund (0:2) and Slavia Prague - Dynamo Kyiv (1:1) matches in the Champions League, while also refereeing the Dinamo Zagreb - Fenerbahce (4:1), Real Betis - AC Milan (1:1) and NK Olimpija - Spartak Trnava (0:2) games in the Europa League.
Pawson was the referee for the Estonia - Finland (0:1) fixture in the UEFA Nations League.
In the 2017/2018 season, Pawson refereed two Europa League games involving Greek teams: Austria Vienna - AEK (0:0) and Qabala - Panathinaikos (1:2).
Referee: Craig Pawson (ENG)
Assistant referees: Lee Betts (ENG), Ian Hussin (ENG)
Additional assistant referees: Paul Tierney (ENG), Jonathan Moss (ENG)
Fourth official: Edward Smart (ENG)