Wolves Face Tough Greek Challenge
Last updated: August 5, 2020 by Leon Marshal
|Kick-off:||Thursday, 6th August 20:00|
|Last Meeting:||Olympiacos 1 – 1 Wolves|
|Competition:||UEFA Europa League|
Wolves face a stern test against the newly crowned Greek Champions at the Molineux Stadium. Nuno Espirito’s side didn’t take advantage in the first leg, settling for a one-all draw against ten men Olympiacos, and now have to get a result against a full-strength “English Slayer” who have already knocked out Arsenal.
The standards that Wolves have set for themselves since being promoted to the Premier League two years ago have been outstanding, qualifying for Europe in their debut season. Nuno Espirito’s side came so close to Champions League qualification this season. With three games left to play they were still in contention until they conceded a penalty deep into injury time to draw 1 – 1 with Burnley. They drifted and finished the season seventh for the second consecutive season.
Wanderers lost 2 – 0 to Chelsea in the final day. Mason Mount scored a sublime free-kick that they would feel was harsh as they felt the foul wasn’t deservedly given in the first place. The second goal was a defensive lapse as they were sliced open like a hot knife through butter with captain Conor Coady failing to clear the ball and Oliver Giroud getting the Blues second.
They have to sort their defence heading to the advanced stages of the European scene, especially with the unforgiving single leg format. They have struggled when the manager gambles with the line-up or decides to chase the game making the team lose shape and organisation showing a lack of depth.
Adama Traore (6 goals and nine assists) has been their most important player this season; such is his form that he has been linked with a return to Barcelona and the new Premier League champions Liverpool. Raul Jimenez is their best man in front of goal with 20 goals and nine assists this season. They are the third highest-scoring team in the competition with 18 goals averaging 2.0 goals per match.
Olympiacos secured their 45th league title, beating AEK Athens 3 – 0, who they still have to meet in the Greece Cup final in their quest for a treble.
Olympiacos conceded just once at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium against Wolves in the first leg, despite playing for 62 minutes with ten men. Pedro Martins’ side did not lose their structure and even controlled possession with great composure and confidence on the ball even though Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute for fouling Jota as the last man.
Despite being a man down, it was the Greek team that scored first with Arabi grabbing the first in the 54th minute. It was a lead that didn’t last long and a persistent Wolves levelled in the 67th minute through Pedro Neto to end the first leg clash 1 – 1.
Youssef El Arabi (scored the winning goal against Arsenal) is their most lethal attacker with 22 goals. The 33-year old Moroccan has featured in 34 league games (more than any other player in the team) and his tally of 28 goals in all competitions. Valbuena is the king of assists with 21 in all competitions this season followed by far by Arabi who has just 8.
Their form has been great losing just once and drawing once in the last ten games, winning the other eight. The Greek Champions have the momentum coming into this encounter with enough rest and confidence, especially after holding off the English side with just ten men.
It will be interesting to see how Wolves marshal themselves up against a full-strength Olympiacos side that has been great ever since they moved to the Europa League after failing to record a single win in the Champions League.
Wolves ended in seventh-place in the Premier League, matching their league position in their debut season last year.
Adama Traore in his best form can be a game-changer, his tally of six goals and nine assists does not reflect the influence he has on the team while counter-attacking.
Olympiacos secured their 45th Greek League title and have a final game in the Greek Cup against AEK Athens.
Youssef El Arabi has featured in more games than any other player in the Olympiacos squad scoring the goal that knocked out Arsenal from the Europa League.
|Wolves (3-4-2-1):||Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Jonny, Neto, Jota, Jimenez|
|Subs:||Ruddy, Vinagre, Kilman, Buur, Jardao, Podence, Gibbs-White, Moutinho, Traore|
|Olympiacos (4-3-2-1):||Jose, Gaspar, Ousseynou, Cisse, Tsimikas, Randjelovic, Guilherme, Fortounis, Camara, Valbuena, Arabi|
|Subs:||Christodoulopoulus, Torosidis, Papadopoulos, Cafu, Lovera, Masouras, Bouchalakis, Semedo, Allain|
So Far This Season
|Wolves This Season||Olympiacos This Season|
|5 (2)||Wins (away)||2(1)|
|4– 0 v Espanyol||Biggest Win||2 – 1 v Arsenal|
|2 (2)||Draws (away)||2 (0)|
|2 – 3 v Espanyol||Biggest Defeat||1 – 3 v Crvena Zvezda|
|G. Jesus (5)||Top Goal Scorer||Arabi (2)|
|Y17, R1||Discipline||Y23, R2|
|1||Failures to Score||2|
|44%||Both Teams to Score Games||67%|
|56%||Over 2.5 Goals||56%|
|44%||Under 2.5 Goals||44%|
- Just one encounter between the two sides that ended as a draw.
- Wolves are the third highest-scoring team in the Europa League with 18 goals in the competition.
- Arabi who was on target when the two sides met is the man to watch as the English slayer as well as Adama Traore (6 goals and nine assists) who is a speed monster and an integral part of the side counter-attacking game.
- Olympiacos have scored an average of 1.97 goals per match this season while Wolves have managed 1.59 goals per match.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Goal-scorer|
|12/03/2020||UEFA||Olympiacos 1 – 1 Wolves||Arabi 54′|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
There were plenty of pundits who felt that Wolves qualifying for Europe would be the quickest route back to the Championship due to the lack of depth at the club. Fast-forward 12 months and not only did they finish seventh, but they are also still in the Europa League and could yet claim a spot in the Champions League by winning the competition.
Olympiacos picking up their 45th title is an amazing achievement. Still, the cynic in us will point out that only five teams have ever won the Greek Superleague and two teams (Olympiacos and Panathinaikos) having 65 wins between them, so it’s pretty much a two-horse race every season. However, winning becomes a habit, so expect a full-on performance. The danger of Valbuena and Arabi can not be overstated.
We are expecting a close game here. The Greek champions are chasing a treble and will be fully committed, Wolves have the quality, but have endured a very long season. We feel the quality of the Premier League will shine through and Wolves will win 3-1 with goals late on.
bet365 are offering 12/1 for the 3-1 scoreline. Olympiacos has conceded 11 penalties this season, Wolves to score one @ 6/1 or to even miss one @ 16/1 would make a good side bet.