Created on 14-09-2015 at 14:30 PM
FC Bayern will break new ground in the first Champions League group stage match of the season: Germany’s record champions encounter top Greek club Olympiacos Piraeus in the competition for the first time. The clubs have met in the group stage of the former European Champion Clubs' Cup before: FCB won both matches in the 1980-81 season, 4-2 and 3-0, comfortably progressing to the Round of 16. fcbayern.de takes a closer look at the Reds' first opponents.
The foundation of Olympiacos dates back to 1925; the clubs “Piraeus Sport and Football Club” and “Football Fan Club Piraeus” had earlier been dissolved. Olympiacos did not take part in the first championship (1927-28) due to disagreements with the Greek FA. However, three years later the men from Piraeus clinched their first championship title. Five more titles were to follow in the next seven years, establishing the red-and-white dominance in Greece which has prevailed to this day. But Olympiacos are very successful in other sports too: in basketball they are among the top European clubs, winning the Euroleague twice (2012, 2013); the volleyball players have dominated their domestic league for years.
Since the 1930s Olympiacos have been the gold standard in Greek football. The Red-Whites have clinched 42 national championship titles and 27 cup victories so far; they won the double in 17 seasons. Olympiacos only experienced a trophy drought, along with financial hardships, between 1985 and 1995. In the mid-90s their situation improved and the Red-Whites have since been serial winners of the Greek championship. Olympiacos have claimed 17 championship titles and eight cup victories in the last 19 years. By contrast, the yield has not been high In European cup competitions: the Greeks got through to European quarter-finals twice, and most recently lost to Manchester United in the 2013-14 Champions League Round of sixteen 3-2 on aggregate.
Olympiacos play their home matches in the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium. The arena, originally a velodrome built for the 1896 Olympics, is very close to the port. Later it became Olympiacos’s home with a 33,000 capacity since the 2004 reconstruction. The stadium, named after a Greek freedom fighter, turned out to be a stronghold in Champions League home matches. In front of their home crowd Olympiacos have won 10 of their last 13 games, beating the likes of Atlético Madrid (3-2), Juventus (1-0), Manchester United (2-0), Arsenal (2-1, 3-1) and Borussia Dortmund (3-1).
In the all-time Champions League table (including European Champion Clubs' Cup) Olympiacos are ranked 21st. The Greeks are taking part in the competition for the 29th time, but they have never got through to the semi-finals. In 1998-99 they lost to Juventus in the quarter-finals. The Red-Whites have spent the winter in the Champions League four times, most recently two years ago, when they eventually lost to United. Last season Olympiacos were eliminated in the group stage, three home wins over Atlético, Juventus and Malmö notwithstanding.
After the first three matchdays in their domestic league Olympiacos are where they usually are, namely at the top with three victories, eight goals scored and one conceded. Last year's double winners are favourites to win the title once more in the current campaign.
Olympiacos coach Marco Silva from Portugal replaced his compatriot Vítor Pereira this summer, even though the latter had won the double. Silva previously coached Sporting Lisbon, winning the Portuguese Cup last season. After only one season the 38-year-old switched to Olympiacos.
Olympiacos underwent many changes during pre-season with 17 new signings – including Felipe Santana from Schalke and Ibrahim Afellay from Stoke City – replacing 16 players who left. Esteban Cambiasso is clearly the most famous player; the 35-year-old Argentinian came from Leicester City on a free transfer this summer. FC Bayern know Cambiasso from the 2009-10 season as he won the Champions League final with Inter Milan in Madrid. Former Bundesliga players Omar Elabdellaoui (Eintracht Braunschweig) and Konstantinos Fortounis (FC Kaiserslautern) are also known quantities. Olympiacos have a dangerous schemer, Alejandro Dominguez. Forward Hernani, on loan from FC Porto, will be responsible for pressing on the right wing.
Coach Silva has relied on a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. In front of the back four, Cambiasso and Luka Milivojevic (banned in the first leg) are in charge of the defensive midfield. The latter could be replaced by Andreas Bouchalakis on Wednesday. Silva has many options regarding the three attacking midfielders: Fortounis, Dominguez, Hernani, Jimmy Durmaz and Felipe Pardo are candidates. After Franco Jara left at the end of the transfer window, goal-getters Alfred Finnbogason from Iceland and Brown Ideye from Nigeria tussle over the remaining position.