Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Olympiacos and Slovan Bratislava, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Two teams eliminated in the previous round of the Champions League will lock horns in the Europa League on Thursday, as well Olympiacos welcome Slovan Bratislava for the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.
Olympiacos lost to Maccabi Haifa in the second qualifying round of the European Cup, while Bratislava were eliminated at the same stage of the same competition by Ferencvaros.
Olympiacos competed in the group stage of the 2020-21 Champions League, but they were knocked out by Ludogorets in the third qualifying round last season, which ultimately saw them enter the Europa League.
The Greek giants actually beat Bratislava 5-2 on aggregate in the playoffs to advance to the group stage, eventually progressing to the knockout round playoffs, where they were beaten 5-1 by Atalanta BC.
Olympiacos, as mentioned, fell in the second qualifying round of this season’s European Cup, losing 5-1 on aggregate to Maccabi Haifa, and they are now bidding to reach the Europa League group stage once again.
The Red and Whites will not begin their league campaign until August 21, so they will be able to fully focus on this two-legged affair, and having overcome Bratislava last season, including a 3-0 victory at home, the team should be in a confident mood.
Olympiacos only announced the arrival of Carlos Corberan as their new head coach on Monday, so he will not have had much time to prepare for the first leg of this contest.
Bratislava won Slovakia’s top flight for the 16th time last season, which saw them secure their spot in the first qualifying round for the 2022-23 Champions League.
The Sky Blues overcame Dinamo Batumi to reach the second qualifying round, but they were unable to progress any further in the competition, losing 5-3 on aggregate to Ferencvaros despite recording a 2-1 victory in the first leg of their contest away from home .
Vladimir Weiss‘s side played in the group stage of last season’s Europa Conference League, finishing third in their section despite picking up eight points from six matches.
Bratislava last played in the group stage of the Europa League in 2019-20, finishing third in Group K behind Braga and Wolverhampton Wanderers, picking up just four points from six matches.
The visitors will enter this game off the back of a positive result, though, having recorded a 4-2 win over Zemplin Michalovce in the league on Saturday, which has left them in second position in their domestic table, boasting six points from their opening three fixtures.
Olympiacos form (all competitions):
Slovan Bratislava Europa League form:
New Olympiacos boss Corberan is expected to resist the temptation to make wholesale changes to the side that started the four-goal home defeat to Maccabi Haifa last time out.
However, the Spaniard will want to imprint his own ideas, so there will be alterations, too Yann M’Vila, Youssef El-Arabi and João Carvalho potentially coming into the XI.
Tiquinho should again play as the central striker for the Greek giants, but there could be a spot in a wide area for the experienced Mathieu Valbuena.
As for Bratislava, there will be changes from the side that took to the field for the first whistle against Zemplin in the league on Saturday.
Tigran Barseghyan, Myenty Abena, Jaba Kankava and Vernon DeMarco are expected to be among those to come back into the starting side for the first leg of this contest.
There will also be a return in the final third of the field for Ivan Saponjicwhile former Manchester City attacker Vladimir Weiss is likely to operate as the number 10 for the Slovakian club.
Olympiacos possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Vrsaljko, Manolas, Cisse, Reabciuk; M’Vila, Kane, Carvalho; El-Arabi, Tiquinho, Valbuena
Slovan Bratislava possible starting lineup:
Chovan; Medvedev, Kashia, Abena, De Marco; Barseghyan, Kucka, Kankava, Pauschek; Weiss; Saponjic
We say: Olympiacos 2-1 Slovan Bratislava
This has all the makings of a very interesting two-legged affair, and we are expecting it to be close over the two fixtures. Olympiacos will have home advantage on Thursday, though, and we are backing them to secure a narrow advantage ahead of the second leg next week.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data