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‘We should enjoy it’

Olympiacos aim to spring a surprise

Saturday’s scheduled derby against Panathinaikos was abandoned before kick-off due to crowd disorder, meaning Piraeus-based Olympiacos have not played a competitive match in 16 days. Does that constitute an advantage for the Greeks, as they will be in top physical condition when they face FC Bayern on Tuesday night? Or is it in fact a disadvantage as they lack match rhythm? “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see,” mused coach Marco Silva when he addressed Monday evening’s pre-match press conference at the Allianz Arena, “we’re definitely well-prepared and we’re looking forward to meeting one of the best clubs in the world.”

Silva and his troops have huge respect for Bayern. “Many bigger teams than us have suffered a lot at this stadium,” the Olympiacos boss said. Silva feels Bayern are much stronger than Arsenal, who the Greeks surprisingly beat 3-2 in London back in September. “Right from the start, Munich were always top favourites in this group. It’s an honour to play here. We should enjoy it.”

Perfect domestic league record

Was the visiting coach merely being realistic, or was this a form of crafty understatement? Bayern must certainly avoid being lulled into a false sense of security: Olympiacos comfortably lead the standings in Greece with a perfect record of ten wins in ten. The men from Piraeus have won both away games in the Champions League so far this term and are joint top of Group F with Bayern on nine points. “We’ll try and take something away from the game here in Munich,” Silva announced.

A point would be enough to see Olympiacos through to the Round of 16. Should they lose in Munich and Arsenal beat Dinamo Zagreb in the parallel fixture, the Greeks’ meeting with the Premier League side in two weeks would be a final of sorts, with the prize of the runners-up spot at stake. Olympiacos are determined to avoid a do-or-die showdown if at all possible, but that will mean “going to the limit” against Bayern, Silva acknowledged. FCB are right to be wary of Tuesday’s opponents: Munich’s 3-0 victory in Athens was Olympiacos’s solitary defeat in their last 23 matches.