FOOTBALL journalist Adam Goodwin (@AGJournalism) runs the rule over Thursday night's Europa League clash between Olympiacos and Burnley as both sides edge closer to the group stage.
Olympiacos v Burnley | Thursday 23rd August 2018, 19:00
Burnley are potentially just two games away from a spot in the Europa League group stages, with Greek giants Olympiacos the side they’ll have to get past in order to do so.
Since the end of last season, Olympiacos have seen 24 players depart the club and 18 new additions join the squad. This is after a calamitous season where the 44-time Greek champions ended the campaign in 3rd, their lowest finish since 2009.
The players they’ve brought in, on paper, look like good signings. Andreas Bouchalakis and Roderick Miranda were both playing in the Championship last season for Nottingham Forest and Wolves respectively, whilst also adding experienced European talent such as Ahmed Hassan, Guilherme, Daniel Podence and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos from league rivals AEK Athens.
The Red and Whites beat Luzern comfortably in the last round, recording a 4-0 home win and a 3-1 victory away in Switzerland. This doesn’t really tell us much about them and it’s hard to judge them on last season’s results when their squad is almost completely different.
Their season hasn’t started yet, so I don’t think anyone – including Sean Dyche – really knows what’s to come from this Olympiacos side.
Burnley still haven’t won a game in 90 minutes since the 14th April and have just about scraped through these Europa League qualifying rounds. They’ve unconvincingly beaten Aberdeen and Istanbul Basaksehir in extra-time, but the Clarets could be just 180 minutes away from the group stages.
New signing Matej Vydra has been included in the squad for tomorrow evening’s game and it looks like he could make his debut. Joe Hart has also been pretty impressive over the last few Europa League games, but conceding three at home to Watford reminded us of how unreliable the former England ‘keeper can be.
In their last two away Europa League games, Sean Dyche has been happy to settle for two draws, with the intention of finishing the job at Turf Moor.
It would come to no surprise to me if he were to try and do the same thing again on Thursday evening, so the 7/1 available on the 0-0 could be an attractive price.
I like the look of draw and under 2.5 goals, which covers both 0-0 and 1-1. Sean Dyche has said that being in this competition is a ‘badge of honour’ and he’s not going to go down without a fight.
The 4/7 on the home side could be potentially too short, especially if their new signings are yet to gel, so I’d be getting Burnley on side and backing draw and Under 2.5 Goals available at 3/1 with Betfred.
Olympiacos v Burnley – Draw and Under 2.5 Goals (3/1 Betfred)