The Turning Point Of The Season
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the importance of the three points away to Dudelange and how this result could be the turning point in the Reds’ season.
On the flight back from Crete, Pedro Martins must have had an uneasy feeling. Olympiacos lost to struggling OFI; a team that hadn’t won a game all season. Anything but a win in Luxembourg would have probably put Martins’ future with the team in jeopardy. The Erythrolefki were lethargic this past Sunday in Iraklio. Their inability to score was evident from the very beginning. The departure of Karim Ansarifard seems to become exponentially more tragic as the season progresses. As if scoring wasn’t already a problem, injuries to Miguel Angel Guerrero and Ahmed Hassan have forced the team to rely on inexperienced striker Dimitris Manos for most of November.
Understandably, Olympiacos officials were very frustrated with Athanasios Sezos and his linesmen’s efforts on Sunday on Matchday 7. Olympiacos forwards were wrongfully called offside on numerous occasions and although Sezos gave the Reds some fouls in midfield territory, he would often calling frustrating “offensive fouls” when they were non-existent. Finally, Martins’ men should have been awarded a penalty shot in the 91st minute after a Bibras Natkho shot bounced off an OFI defender’s hand.
Suspicious officiating aside, Olympiacos were poor in Crete. Championship teams from years prior would have put a game like that away in the first half. We’ve mentioned all season long that scoring would be an issue for this team. In Crete, defending was also a problem. Jagos Vukovic was left off the squad - a head-scratching move by Martins. Vukovic has been the team’s most consistent center-back and should have a permanent spot in the Starting XI. Yaya Toure looks like he’s running in quicksand and I’m starting to question if the move to bring him back was really worth it. To his defense, Toure is still not match fit, but what worries me is his lack of stamina.
The trip to Luxembourg on Thursday was a must-win and the team from Piraeus had one of their best performances against Dudelange. Daniel Podense, Kostas Fortounis, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Matias Nahuel could have put the Erythrolefki up in the first half but the team’s scoring misfortunes continued. Ultimately, it was a Vasilis Torosidis header that opened up the scoring. In the Europa League game, the team showed good pace, created chances and dominated possession, all qualities we hadn`t seen since the game against PAOK at the Georgios Karaiskakis.
So here we are in late October, 6 points in back of PAOK in the Greek Superleague and right in the thick of things in the Europa League group. A win against Dudelange at the Karaiskaki is a must and then we will have the big showdown with AC Milan at home on Matchday 6. In Greece, Olympiacos has the deck stacked against them. The EPO haven`t been discreet about their wishes - a League championship for their beloved PAOK. Martins knows that there isn`t any room for errors. After a home game against Apollon Smyrnis this week, the Reds will have their work cut out for them in Thessaloniki against Aris and back at home for a derby match with rival Panathinaikos. If Olympiacos flips the script and wins the League this season, we may look back at this past week and see that this is where the team faced adversity, triumphed and took off. If the team slides, we may look back at this, as the period that put the nail in the coffin for Olympiacos`s championship dreams.