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Champions League Preview: Olympiacos – Girondins de Bordeaux

Kick Off: Tuesday, February 23, 2010. 20:45 CET
Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Athens


Illusive Success


Olympiacos is a club that boasts an unbelievable array of trophies. They have claimed the Greek league title on no less than 37 occasions, winning their domestic cup a further 24 times, yet there is no hint of European success on the Kokkini’s role of honour. Under Bozidar Bandovic they will attempt to rectify that situation this term.

Of course, the Greeks go into the last 16 stage of the Champions League as underdogs, but coming from the country that produced the European Championship winning squad of 2004, they know all about breeding unlikely success.

Since finishing second behind Arsenal in a group that also contained Standard Liege and AZ, there have been changes on the go at the Athens club. No longer does Brazilian legend Zico command from the touchline, sacked after a disappointing run of results saw the Erythrolefki fall off the pace in the Greek Super League.

Bandovic, who has become the club’s fourth head coach since May 2009, now commands a squad that has been galvanised by the signings of Jesus Datolo from Lazio and Zaire striker Lomana LuaLua, who rejoins the Athenians after an unhappy spell with Al-Arabi.

Only once have Olympiacos previously reached the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite competition, but they will see Tuesday’s match against Girondins de Bordeaux as the ideal opportunity to build a platform to match the feat they achieved in 1998-99, when they were ultimately eliminated by Juventus.

Laurent And His Machine


Bordeaux were arguably the shock package of the group stage, accounting for Bayern Munich and Juventus as they marched to the summit of Group A with some confidence. Les Girondins, based on a solid defensive foundation, had enough offensive verve about them to strike down their opponents, claiming a hugely impressive 16 points from a possible 18 and conceding only one goal throughout their six matches.

Largely unsung on the continent before their powerful autumn progress, Laurent Blanc has been quietly forging an impressive unit in the Aquitaine region of France. Last term they displaced Olympique Lyonnais as France’s team to beat, claiming the Coupe de la Ligue trophy in the process.

Matters for les Girondins have only got better this season. Once more they lead Ligue 1, boasting a three point advantage over nearest challengers Montpellier, and the Stade Chaban-Delmas outfit were even gunning for a remarkable four titles until they lost in the Coupe de France to Monaco two weeks ago.

While the dream of a quadruple is certainly off, les Girondins have their eyes fully focussed on Champions League progression against Olympiacos. To that end they appealed to the French League in order to have their weekend fixture against Auxerre postponed to a later date in order to go into Tuesday’s match in the best shape possible. It was a request that was heard.

Blanc therefore leads his men to Athens in confident shape, hopeful of maintaining the five-match winning streak that eased them through the group stages.

FORM GUIDE

Olympiacos


DREW 1-1 (a) Ergotelis (Super League, February 20)

WON 3-1 (a) Asteras Tripolis (Super League, February 14)

WON 5-1 (h) Levadiakos (Super League, February 7)

WON 1-0 (a) Panionios (Super League, January 31)

LOST 1-0 (h) PAOK (Super League, January 24)

Bordeaux


WON 4-1 (a) Lorient (Coupe de la Ligue, February 17)

WON 3-1 (h) Saint-Etienne (Ligue 1, February 14)

LOST 2-0 (h) Monaco (Coupe de France, February 10)

LOST 4-2 (a) Stade Rennais (Ligue 1, February 7)

WON 1-0 (h) Sedan (Coupe de France, February 2)

TEAM NEWS

Olympiacos


Diogo misses out due to injury, but he is the only short-term injury concern the Greeks have in their ranks. Luciano Galletti has a serious kidney concern and won't be involved, while Dudu is also sidelined. Additionally, they are unharmed by suspensions.

Probable Starting XI:
Nikopolidis; Galitsios, Zewlakov, Mellberg, Bravo; Zairi, Oscar, Maresca, Datolo; Oscar, Mitroglu

Bordeaux


Laurent Blanc has been fortunate with injuries and suspensions to his squad this season. He has been able to name a strong unit to travel to Greece, with anchoring midfielder Alou Diarra his only absentee.

Probable Starting XI:
Carrasso; Chalme, Ciani, Planus, Tremoulinas; Fernando, Plasil; Gouffran, Gourcuff, Wendel; Chamakh

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Olympiacos


There are several players in the hosts’ squad who have had the pleasure of playing in France, though Dudu will be one of the most influential. The Brazilian central midfielder used to play with Yoann Gourcuff in Rennes and will want to use his knowledge of the creative young player to halt Bordeaux’s attacks come Tuesday night. The Brazilian international will want to use his own offensive attributes given the chance.

Bordeaux

Wendel
has been standing in the shadows of some of les Girondins’ stars for 18 months but is really starting to flourish at the moment. A notoriously good deadball striker, the Brazilian has been a key figure for the Chaban-Delmas club in recent weeks, scoring five times in Bordeaux’s last four. Les Girondins will also rely on him providing the ammunition from out wide, a task he is more than capable of fulfilling.

PREDICTION


Neither of these sides proved to be easy opponents in the group stages, with both showing great defensive attributes. Although Olympiacos have had a change of coaching, they will probably approach this encounter in a similar manner, so expect few goals. One moment of excellent could decide this game, and it is the French who are marginally more likely to provide that.

Olympiacos 0-1 Girondins de Bordeaux