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After each elimination from the preliminary rounds of the Champions League, Olympiacos and Slovan Bratislava Castle horns on Thursday evening in their first leg Europe League Playoff tie.
The Greek giants suffered grief on penalties against Ludogorets and fell back into the second European competition, while Bratislava has already defeated Lincoln Red Imps to get that far.
Prediction for this match
Olympiacos was able to put all of its energy into its European successes, as the defense of the title in the Greek Super League will not begin until the weekend, and Pedro Martins‘-Men took two 1-0 victories at home and away against Neftchi Baku to establish a duel in the third round of the Champions League with the Bulgarian powerhouse Ludogorets.
The 46-time Greek champions were unable to exploit their territorial advantage in the first leg as they drew 1-1 with their colleagues and after a 2-2 draw on Bulgarian soil in the second leg Mathieu Valbuena and Ahmed Hassan both missed their kicks when they performed right for the third time in a row in the Champions League.
The loss to Ludogorets means that Olympiacos won’t be out of the Champions League group stage for the second time in 10 years in the 2021/22 season, but have made it to the Europa League round of 16 twice in a row, losing to Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers at this point in the past two years.
A season without a continental group stage is simply incomprehensible for Martin’s team, who have never lost in this phase of the Europa League qualification, but the confidence in the Greek camp will not be sky high before the visit to Bratislava.
In the meantime, the greater European ancestry of the BSC Young Boys was finally in the foreground against Slovan Bratislava, who had previously thrown the Shamrock Rovers out of the qualifying round of the Champions League before they suffered a 2-3 overall defeat against the Swiss giants.
A first appearance in the group stage of Europe’s elite tournament is begging, however Vladimir Weiss‘s team defeated the Red Imps in the third round of the Europa League qualifying 4-2 in the overall standings, won the first leg 3-1 and held a 1-1 draw in the second game with 10 men.
The Slovak champions are far less experienced on the continental stage than their upcoming opponents, but did not manage to reach the actual Europa League until the 2019/20 season and after a 3-1 league win over Zemplin Michalovce at the weekend.
With three wins out of the last four in all competitions, it’s fair to say that the men of Weiss are the ones with the wind in their sails ahead of their trip to Olympiacos who continue to be considered overwhelming favorites to bypass the trapdoor to the Europa Conference League .
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Olympiacos defender Ousseynou Ba saw in the 86th minute of the second leg loss to Ludogorets Red and will be serving a suspension this week while striker Tiquinho Soares is also blocked, but is still injured.
Martins also has to work around the lack of a creative center Konstantinos Fortounis – who is working back from a cruciate ligament tear – during either Socratis or Pape Cisse will represent Ba in defense.
The hosts will certainly consider changes to their XI after last week’s disappointment Kenny Lala and Valbuena – despite his penalty shootout – both options for a move while Tomas Vaclik will soon be hoping for a few minutes in goal.
As for the guests, left-back Lucas Lovat and attacking midfielder David Holman stay in the treatment room, but otherwise Weiss has most of his big hitters excited for a collision of monumental proportions.
However, Slovan is a little exhausted on the left Vernon De Marco‘s expulsion from the Red Imps and subsequent suspension, so Vasil Bozhikov can be pushed out a long way.
Once again, Weiss called League Changes in anticipation of Thursday’s fight, with people like Ezekiel Henty, Joeri De Kamps, Jaba Kankava and Weiss’s son Vladimir all likely to be reinstated in the first XI this week.
Olympiacos possible starting line-up:
Tzolakis; Lala, Semedo, Cisse, Reabciuk; M’Vila, Camara, Bouchalakis, Valbuena, El Arabi, Masouras
Slovan Bratislava possible starting line-up:
Chovan; Pauschek, Kashia, Krizan, Bozhikov; Kankava, De Kamps; Ratao, Weiss, Zmrhal; Henty
Probability: Olympiacos 2-0 Slovan Bratislava
A trip to Olympiakos could go too far for Bratislava as the goal is to keep the score as respectable as possible before trying to turn things around in the second leg.
That’s not to say that a shock result is totally out of the question, but the Greek champions will use all weapons to avoid further continental defeats and should claim a convincing win on home soil.
Best betting tip for this match
Our expert tipster partners at footpredictions.com forecast less than 3.5 goals in this game. Click here to see more football predictions to see what else they are predicting for this game and for more proven soccer tips.Under 3.5: data