One week ago, Olympiacos were eliminated by Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva, in the UEFA Champions League’s third qualifying round, and the Greek champions now have to make drastic changes in order to turn things around, with Portuguese coach, Paulo Bento, being the club’s new manager.
A few months ago, Olympiacos won the Greek League for a fifth straight time, however they didn’t automatically qualify to the UEFA Champions League group stage and had to overcome two opponents in order to advance to the group stage.
The Greek team, though, played very badly in both legs of their battle against Hapoel Be’er Sheva and, consequently, they were eliminated (0-0, 0-1).
Now, the squad has to beat Portuguese club Arouca in order to qualify to the Europa League’s group stage and avoid what will certainly be a financial “destruction”. But, what did Olympiacos do wrong and reached that turning point?
First of all, I think the Greeks underestimated their opponents and thought they would easily eliminate them.
That is also proved by what they did during the transfer period. Not only did they appoint a new manager in former Deportivo La Coruna’s coach, Victor Sanchez (as former coach, Marco Silva, was let go in June), but also they didn’t manage to acquire the players that would help the side play better, both offensively and defensively.
Moreover, the club’s owner, Evangelos Marinakis, is to blame for this disappointing situation, as the Greek businessman seems to have other plans recently.
Marinakis is very close to become Nottingham Forest’s new owner, while he usually confronts the owners of Panathinaikos (Yiannis Alafouzos), PAOK Salonika (Ivan Savvidis) and AEK Athens (Dimitris Melissanidis), respectively, instead of doing his best to strengthen the club and make it extremely competitive in Europe.
As a result, the owner seems to care more about beating his Greek rivals than helping the squad have a decent presence in the Champions League or (especially) the Europa League.
This summer, though, I think that terrible mistakes were made by everyone in the club. Although they lost to AEK Athens in the Greek Cup’s Final, they decided not to change anything and that’s why they were knocked out by Hapoel Be’er Sheva, which was a mediocre team, but played very well and certainly deserved to qualify to the play-offs.
That said, and with Olympiacos’ COO, Yiannis Vrentzos, having already resigned, what is next for Olympiacos, with Europa League’s play-offs just a week away?
Paulo Bento certainly has no time to make the changes he wants, while newcomer Andre Martins will need some time to play at high standards.
However, Arouca is an inexperienced club and, normally, the Greeks will not have any problems to prevail over the Portuguese and advance to the group stage.
At the same time, Marinakis seems ready to spend more money and help the team return to the winning track, although there are only three weeks left until the end of the transfer period.
Above all, though, what the club needs to change is their mentality and the fact that nothing will be handed to them and will have to fight for it.
Although the quality of the Greek Championship is very poor and Olympiacos easily claims the title every year, this doesn’t mean the situation is the same in Europe. Only if they have a great and consistent performance in the European competitions, then they will be able to be considered a top-class European club.
Otherwise, thing will remain the same and any team, no matter how talented it is, will be able to eliminate the Greek champions and cause them a financial “destruction”.