Connect in the back of the net

It’s not often that Greek teams compete toe-to-toe against Europe’s best, but Olympiacos and AEK Athens both achieved hugely positive results against top quality opposition.

Olympiacos amazingly held the mighty Barcelona to a 0:0 draw in Piraeus, before AEK fended off the advances of AC Milan at home to keep a second consecutive clean sheet against the Italian giants.

 

Surprising, but a deserved and hard-earned point

We start with Olympiacos, a team in turmoil.

Following their shocking start to their UEFA Champions League campaign, the Greek champions were in desperate need of a decent result on matchday four to keep slim hopes of a European spring alive. There was only one problem – they were playing against Barcelona.

Olympiacos put up a brave showing in Spain two weeks ago, even managing to score a goal in a battling 1:3 defeat. Nevertheless, the return in Piraeus promised to be a huge challenge for a team which was coming off the back of a bitter 0:1 loss to eternal rivals Panathinaikos in the Greek Super League.

Head coach Takis Lemonis went for another negative line-up, fielding attacking midfielder Kostas Fortounis as the furthest forward player. From the off, it was clear that Olympiacos were simply going to batten down the hatches and wait for the final whistle.

Olympiacos held on for dear life, securing a memorable point which was celebrated like a victory. Currently, Olympiacos languish in fourth place of Group D, needing a win against Sporting Lisbon in the next match if they are to rise to third and qualify for the Europa League. This was indeed an upset, and certainly this would have been a great bet. A great tipster that recommends betting on results similar to these is https://www.topfootballtipster.com/, it’s really worth checking him out.

To everyone’s surprise, the sold-out Karaiskakis Stadium witnessed an historic night. Olympiacos gave a committed performance, refusing to let the ridiculously talented Barcelona team pick them apart. The Greeks restricted Barcelona to only half-chances during the opening 45, and Kostas Fortounis even had a couple of counterattack opportunities for Olympiacos.

Olympiacos continued to frustrate their illustrious opponents in the second half. Barcelona did step it up a gear in the latter stages though, forcing Belgian goalkeeper Silvio Proto into some expert saves. Luis Suarez had a golden opportunity to win it late on, but his lob glanced the crossbar on its way over.

Olympiacos held on for dear life, securing a memorable point which was celebrated like a victory. Currently, Olympiacos languish in fourth place of Group D, needing a win against Sporting Lisbon in the next match if they are to rise to third and qualify for the Europa League.

 

AEK prove their mettle as well

On Thursday, AEK Athens hosted AC Milan in the Europa League.

The Athens club had claimed a dramatic 0:0 draw at the San Siro in the previous round of games, but they had since been dealt a massive blow. Club captain Petros Mantalos, the soul of this AEK team, had received a devastating ACL injury in a league game against Panionios, a setback which has ruled him out for six months.

Still, the show had to go on.

The 70,000 capacity OAKA stadium was practically full to the rafters for the visit of AC Milan, with many fans recalling AEK’s famous 1:0 win against Milan in the 2006 Champions League. AEK started on the front foot in this game, immediately showing the visitors that they cannot be taken lightly.

Rodrigo Galo came the closest to a goal, rifling a half volley inches wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Milan slowly grew into the game in the second half, upping the pressure on a tiring AEK team. Riccardo Montolivo almost gave the Italians a precious lead, as he smacked the upright at close range. Milan huffed and puffed, but AEK calmly held out to claim a well-deserved point.

This 0:0 result keeps AEK in second place of Group D on six points, two ahead of nearest challengers FK Austria Wien. The next fixture sees AEK take on HNK Rijeka, a game which could see AEK through to the knockout stages if they earn a victory.

 

Written by Shaun Nicolaides

Follow Shaun on Twitter @zenitfan93

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