Tonight sees Olympiakos welcome GNK Dinamo Zagreb to the Karaiskakis for the second home game of this campaign. As was the case with the tie in Croatia the game will played in
front of only home fans. After a win on matchday 3, and good form at home, it will be hoped the side are full of confidence and on a high. With the unrivaled vocal support of
the Karaiskakis faithful behind them, a win is an achievable outcome.
A late goal from Brown Ideye in Zagreb secured a second successive away win. Thrylos now go into the second half of the group stage looking like genuine contenders for
qualification from the group stage. A win against Zagreb this evening will ensure some form of European football will be on offer to the Thrylos fans in the knockout stages, be
that Champions League or Europa League. A win will see the Reds go on to nine points with two games remaining, Dinamo Zagreb will not be able to finish with any more than nine
points, and should that unlikely scenario (they would need to beat both Bayern Munich and Arsenal!) arise the head-to-head ruling means that Olympiakos would finish above them.
Arsenal have had a woeful start to their campaign, but they are by no means out of the race for qualification yet. A good matchday 3 result against Bayern munich sees them with
three points on the board with another nine points to play for, and, it is still Arsenal. Arsenal win more games than they lose, and no team in Europe has more group stage
experience than the former English champions.
Since the meeting two weeks ago, Dinamo Zagreb and ourselves have had contrasting fortunes back in our respective domestic affairs. While Thrylos have maintanined their unbeaten start to the season. League wins against Atromitos and Veria along with a 2-2 draw with Platanias in the side’s opening cup game have maintained the steady progress of Marco Silva’s Olympiakos juggernaut. Meanwhile, in Croatia, Dinamo have had a couple of matches to forget and finally hitting some bad form after their unstoppable displays spanning a number of seasons. Zagreb were 2-1 losers against the now table-toppers, Rijeka, the weekend following the Champions League defeat. Their most recent league match also resulted in defeat. In a Friday night fixture, the capital city club travelled to RNK Split where they came undone, losing 1-0 on that occassion. Having played on the Friday night, the extra day’s preparation was meant to provide an advantage to the Croatians. It will hardly seem much of an advantage to the side as they head to Greece off the back of back-to-back defeats in the league following the disappointment they will undoubtedly have felt after matchday 3 in the Champions League. Knowing they will have not have the support support of their fans behind them tonight must make those players truly feel they have a mountain to climb. Thrylos must fancy their chances tonight, and ensure that when infront of goal they are clinical enough to punish any doubts that may be circuling in the heads of the Zagreb players.
Silva will have his biggest decision to make when selecting the two players he wants to play wide on the wings. Seba and Pardo have been the choice wing pairing in Europe until now. A change may be on the cards this evening though as Hernani’s form in the last two games has been a revelation. Having been given a rare start in the cup encounter with Platanias, the Portugese deadline day arrival repaid Marco Silva’s faith with a superb performance and scoring both of the Reds’ goals on the day. In Saturday’s 2-0 win over Veria, it was Hernani’s run and cross from the left which resulted in Brown Ideye finding the net again as his own good run continues. Hernani may well find this change in form rewarded with his first start in the Champions League tonight. The question will then be, should it be Felipe Pardo or the hard-working Seba to partner him?
After a lay off for recent games, Esteban Cambiasso has been declared fit and returns to the matchday squad and is expected to start in the centre of the Reds’ midfield.
Alejandro Dominguez is Silva’s most noticeable absentee this eveing. Chori has been ruled out with the hamstring problem he picked up in last week’s cup tie. A definite miss this evening will mean Kostas Fortounis is certain to start in the Number 10 role, while Dominguez is aiming for a return date of 21st November to face Panathinaikos in the derby.
Other deficiencies in tonight’s squad are Giannis Maniatis with his long-term knee issue and Andreas Bouchalakis is a doubt with a thigh strain.