Sunday, January 20, 2019

Prediction: Olympiakos vs Burnley

Verdict: Olympiakos win

Best Odds: 3/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

Two sides that will know that they’re now just two games away from booking their spot in the group stages of this years Europa League group stage, Sean Dyche’s Burnley side will travel to Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki on Thursday night. The Clarets will know they must improve on their form in the final third if they stand any chance of leaving Greece with a much needed early advantage.

Olympiakos

For Pedro Martins’ Olympiakos side, although the hosts on Thursday could only land a third-place finish in the Greek Super League and eventually ended the campaign 13 points adrift of AEK Athens, they have shown signs of improvement of late. Breezing past Luzern in the last round and putting seven past them over the two legs, Olympiakos will be looking for Greece international Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. The 31-year-old has bagged four in his last two and will fancy his chances against a Burnley appearing to struggle with the demands of playing so frequently. Martins will also be filled with confidence given his sides recent record at home. In fact, Thursday’s hosts have only lost one of their last 14 matches in all competitions and that came in a 2-0 defeat to Serie A powerhouses Juventus back in December 2017. Bringing in a host of new faces this summer, spirits are high for The Reds and they will be a tough test for Burnley.

Team News

Pedro Martins has no new injury concerns and is expected to name the same team that beat Luzern last time out.

Burnley

With Sean Dyche questioning the state of the Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki pitch after being told they are not allowed to train on there the day before, it could be a very difficult first leg for The Clarets. Needing extra time to come past both Aberdeen and Istanbul Başakşehir in the last two rounds, they have also struggled at the start of the new Premier League campaign. Coming off the back of a 3-1 loss at home to Watford, Dyche’s side have now failed to win any of their last five matches in 90 minutes and it will be their form in the final third that will be the biggest cause for concern. Aside from nicking on against The Hornets last weekend, they haven’t scored in normal time in their other four outings in all competitions. Burnley have also failed to win their last five matches on the road outside of friendly matchups.

Team News

Anders Lindegaard and Robbie Brady are both battling back from injury but weren’t fit enough in time to be added to Burnley’s European squad, while Nick Pope and Steven Defour are both injured too. Matej Vydra has been brought into the squad though and could make an appearance.

Key Factors to Consider

  • This will be the first time that Burnley have played a Greek team in a European match.
  • Olympiakos have played 13 previous home matches against English opposition in Europe, winning six, losing four and drawing three.
  • Midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has scored five of Olympiakos’ last seven goals in the competition.
  • in 90 minutes Burnley have failed to score in five of their last seven.
  • Burnley have drawn five of their six competitive games this season.

Conclusion

Although Sean Dyche will unquestionably demand nothing short of 100% from his traveling side, it does appear that The Clarets are struggling to adjust to their busy schedule. With Olympiakos only losing one home match in 2018 and given their recent stellar run of form in the final third, on paper, it seems to be a challenge too far for Burnley. Given the gulf in recent results, we’re backing the hosts to come away with a crucial early advatange in the first leg.

Verdict: Olympiakos win

Best Odds: 3/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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