Olympiakos - Schalke Preview: Stevens' side face difficult trip to Greece
The Gelsenkirchen club begin their Champions League campaign against the Greek outfit, with both teams boasting unbeaten domestic records this season
By Enis Koylu
Torosidis, Papazoglou, Siovas, Holebas
Abdoun, Maniatis, Fuster, Machado
Howedes, Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs
Farfan, Holby, Draxler
Olympiakos have confirmed that every player who featured in the weekend's 2-1 win over Giannina will be fit to face Schalke, though Avraam Papadopoulos remains sidelined with the knee injury he picked up during the course of Greece's Euro 2012 campaign.
Elsewhere, Giannis Maniatis and Vasilis Torosidis had sat out their club's last match, but coach Leonardo Jardim confirmed that they had been rested due to their involvement with the Greece national team and will be able to return for the clash with Huub Stevens' side.
Meanwhile, Schalke should name an unchanged 4-2-3-1 line-up from the one that beat Greuther Furth 2-0 over the weekend, with Lars Unnerstall continuing ahead of Ralf Fahrmann and the injured Timo Hildebrand.
Club captain Benedikt Howedes will continue at right-back, with Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Joel Matip at the heart of defence and Christan Fuchs on the left. The blossoming partership of Jermaine Jones and Roman Neustadter will be retained, and Lewis Holtby will keep his place in the No.10 role.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Olympiakos also faced German opposition in the group stage of last season's Champions League. The Greeks beat Schalke's Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in Athens.
- Left-back, Jose Holebas (pictured, right) was born in Germany, but chose to elect Greece, the country of his father's birth.
- In Olympiakos' six competitive home fixtures against Bundesliga clubs there have been 29 goals, and the hosts have prevailed on four occasions, but lost twice.
- This match will be Schalke's 150th game in European club competition. The have won 77 of their fixtures to date, and won the 1997 Uefa cup.
- The Gelsenkirchen giants have failed to score on matchday one of their last four Champions League campaigns. One of those matches was a 2-0 loss to Olympiakos' arch-rivals Panathinaikos.
- Konigsblauen centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos came through the ranks at Olympiakos, before leaving the club at the Veltins Arena in 2010. He remains the youngest player to ever play in the Greek Super League.
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Top 3 Predictions
Olympiakos Piraeus 1-2 Schalke 04
- 18.23 %
Olympiakos Piraeus 0-2 Schalke 04
- 15.47 %
Olympiakos Piraeus 1-1 Schalke 04
- 11.05 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 21, 2012||Schalke 04 1 - Olympiakos Piraeus 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Sep 18, 2012||Olympiakos Piraeus 1 - Schalke 04 2|
|Feb 25, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - Man Utd. 0||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||OFI Crete 0 - Olympiakos Piraeus 4||GRE1|
|Feb 15, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 4 - AO Platanias 2||GRE1|
|Feb 8, 2014||Veroia FC 0 - Olympiakos Piraeus 5||GRE1|
|Feb 5, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - Panionios 0||GRE1|
|-||Rafik Zoheir Djebbour||Striker|
|7||Ariel Miguel Ibagaza||Midfielder|
|17||Jefferson Agustin Farfán||Striker|
|Rafik Zoheir Djebbour|
With the departure of Kevin Mirallas to Everton this summer, more responsibility was always going to fall upon the shoulders of Rafik Djebbour this season. And the Algerian has not disappointed, scoring four goals in his side's opening three Super League games this season. His efforts so far in this campaign have been rewarded with a new three-year deal, and there will be no better way for the 28-year-old to celebrate than by providing a match-winning performance against Schalke on Tuesday.
Lewis Holtby has quite simply been in fantastic form over the last few months with his performances for both Schalke and Germany's Under-21s, scoring a string of great goals and running the midfield show for Huub Stevens' side. He has well and truly stepped into the void that departed Spaniard Raul left at the Veltins Arena, and has a golden opportunity to justify the recent links with the likes of Arsenal as his side gear up for another campaign in the Champions League.
As Borussia Dortmund will tell you, Olympiakos cannot be underestimated under any circumstances due to their potent array of players going forward, and their dominance of the Greek Super League looks set to continue after they made a flying start to the 2012-13 season. However, Schalke possess that extra bit of European experience compared to their local rivals, and I'd expect the Germans to prevail, despite the ever-passionate home support.