Thrylos out to put demons to bed against Burnley
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - PLAYOFF ROUND (LEG 1)
Olympiacos are aiming to put an end to their dismal run against English opposition and defeat Burnley in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League playoffs. AGONAsport previews the battle.
Missing out on UEFA Champions League football for the first time in eight years, Olympiacos have put their bitterness aside to make a positive start to life in the Europa League, thrashing FC Luzern 7:1 in the third qualifying round. Despite head coach Pedro Martins signing plenty of new players this summer, the Thrylos were a well-oiled machine against Luzern, as Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Miguel Angel Guerrero scored a combined seven goals to destroy the Swiss.
On the other hand, Burnley have scraped through two qualifying phases, edging past Aberdeen 4:2 in extra time before requiring 220 minutes to beat Istanbul Basaksehir 1:0 on aggregate. Coming off the back of a superb 2017/2018 Premier League campaign in which they claimed seventh spot, the English outfit are solid in defence and pose a real threat when in the attacking third, however boss Sean Dyche did state that his focus is on the domestic championship.
Burnley have started slowly in the Premier League, drawing 0:0 away to Southampton and conceding a surprise 1:3 defeat at home to Watford on Sunday.
Nevertheless, in an encouraging statistic for Burnley fans, Olympiacos have only won seven out of 26 meetings with English teams and often struggle. Given that the Thrylos have suffered 12 defeats in 13 competitive games in England, they cannot afford to travel to Burnley with a negative result from the first leg.
TEAM NEWS: OLYMPIACOS
Boss Pedro Martins has included new signings Bibars Natcho, Guilherme and Ahmed Hassan in his squad for the maiden match against Burnley, but it’s unlikely that any of them will start. The reliable Andreas Gianniotis will stand between the pipes and Guerrero will probably be handed a spot in the line-up ahead of Karim Ansarifard.
Possible line-up: Gianniotis, Elabdellaoui, Miranda, Vukovic, Tsimikas, Bouchalakis, Camara, Fortounis, Podence, Christodoulopoulos, Guerrero.
TEAM NEWS: BURNLEY
As already mentioned, Burnley head coach Dyche did admit that his main aim is still the Premier League, so it will be intriguing to see how many changes he makes in comparison to the match against Watford at the weekend. Belgian midfielder Steven Defour and goalkeeper Nick Pope are on the sidelines with injuries.
In an interesting twist, Burnley were forced to train at Panionios’ Nea Smyrni Stadium on Wednesday because of the poor condition of the Karaiskakis Stadium pitch.
Possible line-up: Hart, Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley, Cork, Westwood, Hendrick, Gudmundsson, Lennon, Wood.
REFEREE: SLAVKO VINCIC (SVN)
The referee for this game is a familiar face for Olympiacos. In the 2016/2017 Europa League playoffs, 38-year old Slovenian Vincic took charge of the Erythrolefkoi’s 1:0 victory against Arouca in Portugal, handing out five yellow cards in total and two to Olympiacos. In 2016 he also took charge of PAOK’s 0:0 draw with Fiorentina in the Europa League group stages.
Vincic has been an international referee since 2010.
Referee: Slavko Vincic (SVN)
Assistant referees: Tomaz Klancnik (SVN), Andraz Kovacic (SVN)
Fourth official: Rade Obrenovic (SVN)