Anderlecht vs Olympiakos by Isaiah
Anderlecht only secured their progress to the knockout phase of Europa League in the last round of the group stage with a 2:1 victory over Qarabag, but that still represents a success for them, since the team left French side Monaco four points beside them at the table. On the other side, they ended up second in the group having three points less than English side Tottenham. In the first knockout round, they will be playing against Greek champions Olympiakos, side that came in Europa League after being third in their Champions League group.
As for domestic league, Anderlecht currently stands at third position, having four points less than leading duo from Club Brugge and Gent and the league competition will surely represent their priority later on in next months. In the most recent game, they took a convincing 3:0 home victory over Zulte Waregem, dominating from the off and scoring goals via Acheampong in 30th, Buttner in 60th and via Suarez during additional time. It was completely deserved victory for them, as the team improved their undefeated streak to four games now. Left full back Ivan Obradovic (13/0) is injured, same as defensive midfielder Leander Dendoncker (17/1) and forward Aaron Leya Iseka (3/0).
Olympiakos, on the other side, didn't expect to make a better result in Champions Legue, since the team got drawn together with Arsenal and Bayern Munich, but still stood competitive for the second position till the last game and actually looked like favorites to get the knock-out phase ticket during the process. Their 3:0 defeat in front of own fans early in December against Arsenal cost them a lot and the Greeks remained third with same number of points as Gunners and six less than Bayern Munich.
In the most recent game, Olympiakos suffered narrow 1:0 defeat last weekend away to AEK in the Greek Super League. However, the team didn't look that bad, but paid the price in the second half when they stood playing with two men less, when Botia got red carded in 47th and Milivojevic in 76th. Finally, Vargas was able to convert chances of a home team into goals in 78th minute, while the players of Olympiakos didn't have enough resources to revert the scoreline later on, neither time. The team won't be too downhearted with this defeat, as it's their first in the season, while they remain first at the table - having sixteen points more than AEK, with eight rounds till the end of the regular part of the season. Greeks should miss suspended right full back Omar Elabdellaoui (15/1), defensive midfielder Esteban Cambiasso (10/1) is doubtful, while offensive players Felipe Padro (16/2) and Hernani (9/0) continue to be injured.
Just like in previous two meetings in Champions League back in 2013, I expect another open minded and attacking games when these two sides meet. Anderlecht knows that they can't afford to wait for their chance in Greece, so the team will be very offensive here, while the Greek side anyway remains very dangerous and capable of scoring via counter attacks and set pieces.