Juventus must strike back against Greek giants Olympiakos
Massimilliano Allegri’s Juventus side (odds-on 1/3 favourites with Coral to win) have some serious work to do when they host Greek Super League champions Olympiakos, as the Old Lady currently reside third in Champions League Group A, having collected just three points from three games.
Under-pressure Allegri, speaking before the upcoming encounter, said: “We must remain calm without being overwhelmed by external pressures, like the talk of Juve having a complex in Europe. We will give great intensity and it is mandatory for us to win.
“Compared to the game in Greece, we will err less and be more clinical in front of the keeper. It will take patience and nerves of steel to bring home the result.”
Last time these two teams clashed, the Piraeus port club (1/10 to triumph yet again) snatched a 1-0 win at the fiery Karaiskakis Stadium, and also defeated last campaign’s competition runners-up Atletico Madrid, showing they should not be underestimated.
Two players with connections to current Championship side Fulham will be representing The Legend in Turin, with Swiss midfielder Pajtim Kasami and on-loan Cottagers flop Kostas Mitroglou both expected to start.
Kasami was the hero last time out, netting the only goal against the Italian giants, and is 11/2 to strike again anytime to keep Olympiakos’ dream of qualifying top of their pool alive.
Mitroglou, meanwhile, has found his scoring boots since returning home, where he previously spent seven seasons, and has notched up three in five league games. The Greece striker netted the last goal against Atleti, and is 11/1 to close the scoring once more.
Another duo crucial to Olympiakos’ Champions League campaign are ex-Barcelona teammates Eric Abidal and Ibrahim Afellay. Experienced Abidal, who has lifted Europe’s top club prize twice, provides the leadership to manager and former Real Madrid midfield star Michel’s rearguard, and will be called on once again to marshal the defence in Turin.
On-loan Dutch wingman Afellay is still contracted to the Catalan club but, as it is unlikely the once promising attacker will return to Nou Camp to challenge Messi and co, the PSV Eindhoven academy product is doing his best to impress. Afellay was also on target against Atletico, and could prove fatal on the counter against Juve, where he is 6/1 to net anytime.
The hosts, however, have a point to prove. Allegri’s Old Lady once again lead Serie A, and began the season is sensational style, rampaging on an eight-match unbeaten streak, before stumbling somewhat.
Juve’s form in Europe has been, by contrast, disappointing, but the Italian outfit must dust themselves off and secure all three points in front of their home fans if they are to salvage hope of qualification to the last 16.
Magnificent midfield trio Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal (6/5 to score anytime after bagging three league goals this term) will be pulling the strings, and should ensure that Allegri’s men take their second chance in Turin.
Top scorer Carlos Tevez will still be buzzing after his recall to the Argentina squad for the first time in three years, and is 3/1 to make his mark and provide the clinical presence Allegri has called for against Olympiakos by bagging a brace or better.