21.10.2014 12:29 - in: UCL S

      Olympiacos in the spotlight

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      Founded in 1925, the reigning Super League Greece holders are the country’s most successful club side with 41 league titles and have continued to be ever-presents in the Champions League for the past 16 seasons


      Founded in 1925, Olympiacos are the current Super League Greece holders (inaugurated in 2006 to replace the old Alpha Ethniki championship) and have won the nation's top flight on a record 41 occasions. The country’s  most successful club side, they’ve also claimed 26 Greek Cups and four Greek Super Cups and share a long-standing rivalry with Panathinaikos, a team with whom they contest the “derby of the eternal enemies”. Olympiacos’ home kit is red and white vertical striped shirts, equipped with both red shirts and socks.


      The Piraeus-based outfit play their matches at the noisy 32,115 seater Karaiskakis Stadium and have been official tenants of the venue on three separate occasions. Having initially moved in upon their birth as a football club, Olympiacos spent 59 years there before temporarily upping sticks to the newly built Athens Olympic Stadium in 1984. 

      Five years later they were on the move again and proceeded to alternate between the same grounds (as well as having a two-year stint at the Georgios Kamaras Stadium in Rizoupoli from 2002) before returning to the newly-built Karaiskakis in 2004 after the culmination of the Summer Olympics in Athens. 

      Route to UCL

      Olympiacos directly qualified for this year’s competition as domestic champions and enjoyed their best run in Europe’s elite contest in the 1998/99 Champions League, which saw them reach the quarter-finals.

      In last year’s competition, they were eliminated at the last-16 stage by a Robin van Persie hat-trick at Old Trafford as Premier League giants Manchester United overcame them 3-2 on aggregate despite Olympiacos winning the first leg 2-0 in Piraeus.

      On a side note, this will be the ninth European meeting between Wednesday’s opponents. The Old Lady’s record against their Greek counterparts reads five victories (including a 7-0 Champions League drubbing in December 2003 at the Stadio Delle Alpi), two draws and a solitary defeat.

      Domestic campaign

      Saturday’s 3-2 away victory over Ergotelis ensured Olympiacos would end the latest round of Super League Greece matches in third position, three points behind league leaders PAOK Salonika.

      Alejandro Dominguez’s goal sandwiched in between a brace from summer signing Kostas Mitroglou (who scored the game’s last-gasp winner) saw the Piraeus side bounce back in fantastic fashion following a 1-0 defeat to Atromitos on the previous matchday.

      The reigning champions have registered four wins, a draw and a defeat from the six league games contested so far.


      Olympiacos are currently under the tutelage of ex-Real Madrid midfielder Jose Miguel Gonzalez Martin del Campo, commonly known as Michel.

      Renowned for his fantastic crossing ability during a 14-year spell with Los Blancos, he initially joined the Spanish giants as a 13-year-old and won 16 titles (including six La Liga triumphs). He called time on his career after a final season with Mexican outfit Celaya in 1997.

      Michel scored 128 goals for Spain’s most successful team, no mean feat for a winger. These eye-catching domestic performances led him to receive 66 caps for the Spanish national side for whom he scored 21 times from 1985 to 1992.

      During his eight-year-spell out of football after retirement, the 51-year-old worked as a sports commentator with Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and was a frequent contributor to Madrid-based newspaper Marca.

      2005 saw his return to the beautiful game in a management capacity when he was handed the reins at Rayo Vallecano, achieving a fifth place in the Segunda Division B.

      He was on the move a season later, appointed coach of Real Madrid Castilla (where his son Adrian was plying his trade at the time) but was sacked after a difficult campaign.

      After spending two more years out of the game he joined top flight strugglers Getafe in April 2009 and managed to steer them away from the dreaded drop on the last La Liga matchday. He would go on to save them again from relegation the following season but was relieved of his duties in 2011.

      Michel was back in management with Sevilla in February 2012 but found himself out of a job in January the following year, leaving the Andalusians in a disappointing 12th place with five months of the season still to go.

      It seems that Michel has found his managerial feet at Olympiacos, though. Now 18 months into the job since replacing former fan favourite Antonis Nikopolidis in February 2013, he has gone on to win two league titles and last year’s Greek Cup in what has been an excellent tenure so far.

      Key man

      Swiss international Pajtim Kasami is the man to watch during Wednesday night’s encounter, having begun this domestic campaign in blistering form.

      The 22-year-old midfielder - who was born in Macedonia and has Albanian heritage - flitted between a quartet of youth academies that included Swiss clubs Winterthur and Grasshoppers as well as Liverpool and Lazio.

      He made his professional career debut with Bellinzona back in his native country before leaving for Palermo with whom he made 14 appearances during the latter half of the 2010/11 Serie A season.  

      Fulham came calling and he went on to spend 36 months in England’s top flight before jetting off to Greece in the summer. His venomous volley against Crystal Palace for the Cottagers last year drew comparisons with Marco Van Basten and was touted as one of the best strikes from the 2013/14 Premier League season by a variety of media outlets.

      After failing to hold down a first team place at his previous clubs, Kasami has somewhat found a new lease of life with Olympiacos having already bagged three goals in his first four league appearances. Juventus will have to keep a close eye on a man who has the makings of a star.

      On the international stage, the 6ft 2in midfielder - who can also be deployed behind the striker – has represented Switzerland at every level including their 2012 Olympic squad.

      After making his debut for the senior side in a 1-0 victory over Slovenia in 2013, he went on to make only his second and most recent appearance two months later in a 2-1 defeat to South Korea. Kasami got the only goal of the night during a disappointing display from Ottmar Hitzfeld’s troops.

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