After finishing seventh in the Premier League and narrowly missing out on a place in European competition next season, Wolves must now turn their attention to the Europa League where they pick up in the second leg of the round of 16. They will face opponents Olympiacos at an empty Molineux stadium with the aggregate score at 1-1 after the first round. The match kicks off at 8pm and will be broadcast live on BT Sport.
After a strong restart to the Premier League campaign, Wolves only managed to win two of their last six matches (D1, L3). Their last outing was a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on the final day of the season which meant that they finished seventh in the league, below Tottenham on goal difference, and missed out on a guaranteed place in Europe. Thanks to Arsenal winning the FA Cup their only hope of playing in Europe again next season is to win the Europa League.
In the game against Chelsea, Wolves started well and although there were no real clear cut opportunities, they looked comfortable. However, a free-kick for Chelsea late in the first-half changed everything. Mason Mount buried the free-kick to put the hosts ahead, this frustrated Wolves and meant that their concentration dipped. With this dip came an array of mistakes which ultimately gifted Chelsea a second goal before half-time. No matter what changes Wolves made in the second half, they had left themselves too much to do and couldn’t find a way back into the game.
Sadly, we are, again, left talking about a dip in concentration costing Wolves, as we have been a few times since the restart. It is something that the team need to work on as it has become a bit of a problem as of late. Against Olympiacos, Wolves need to make sure that they don’t lose concentration and remain focused, even if they fall behind.
The Greece Super League champions have only lost once all season in a 1-0 defeat to second-placed PAOK last month. They have been on great form, winning three of their last five league games (D1, L1), and won’t be afraid of facing Wolves having already knocked Arsenal out of the competition in the previous round.
Their last competitive outing was a convincing 3-0 win against AEK Athens in the league. The win, with goals from Mathieu Valbuena, Lazar Randjelović and Mady Camara, meant Olympiacos clinched their 45th Greece Super League title and their first since the 2016-17 season.
I’d say the main man to watch from their team is Youssef El Arabi. The Moroccan forward has scored 27 goals so far in all competitions making him their top goalscorer this season. He has also provided eight assists. He scored their goal against Wolves in the first leg and he also scored their winning goal against Arsenal in the previous round.
Wolves v Olympiacos Team News
Wolves have no injury concerns going into this match and I think we could see Nuno opt for an attacking line-up of:
Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Podence.
Olympiacos, on the other hand, will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Jose Sa who is out with a wrist injury. They will also be without defender Ruben Semedo who is suspended after receiving a red card in the first leg.
Head to Head
The only previous meeting between the two sides was in the first leg of this tie earlier in the season.
The match took place behind closed doors back in March when tensions surrounding the Coronavirus were rising. It was a match that Wolves didn’t really want to play with BBC Sport reporting that Nuno said it was “absurd” it proceeded despite concerns over the pandemic.
In that match, Wolves have gifted an early advantage when Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute for a foul on Diogo Jota. They failed to capitalise on that advantage and went behind when Youssef El Arabi scored in the 54th minute. Wolves did manage to salvage a point shorty after when Pedro Neto’s free-kick was deflected past Jose Sa.
With a spot in the quarter-finals up for grabs, this will be a tough match. Olympiacos have had a great season and should not be underestimated, especially considering that they came from 1-0 down in the first leg of the previous round to knock Arsenal out of the competition. They have a lot of fight in them but so do Wolves, which I believe will make this an interesting game.
Nuno, as reported by the Express & Star, has expressed his desire to continue on strong in the competition saying:
“The players know from day one, each game is a game to compete, to put all the energy we have into that game, and the players have been doing that.
“We want to continue, we know that it’s game by game, but we really desire because it’s been an amazing experience for everybody.”
Wolves look the favourites going into the match as they have the advantage of the away goal. However, as already mentioned, Olympiacos were in a similar position against Arsenal and came out on top. I think Olympiacos will come out and attack strong but I think Wolves will, ultimately, have the quality to put themselves through to the quarter-finals.