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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Burnley v Olympiakos

Europa League play-off round second leg

30 August 2018

The Clarets go into tonight’s Europa League play-off second leg knowing they need to overturn a two-goal deficit if they are to reach the group stages of the competition.

Thanks to Chris Wood’s calmly taken penalty in the first leg in Athens, a 2-0 win will be enough to take Burnley through and continue the club’s first European campaign in 51 years.

Of course, trailing 3-1 from the first leg reduces the Clarets’ margin from error.

But winning the return by the same scoreline would set-up a third successive bout of extra-time and the possibility of a penalty shoot-out, which Sean Dyche’s men have avoided so far after twice coming good in the extra half hour to overpower Aberdeen and then Istanbul Basaksehir in their first two qualifying ties.

Judging by their first-leg performance, Olympiakos – who will be playing their 275th game in European competition after winning a record 44 domestic titles – will carry a threat on the break and from set-pieces.

But the Clarets are determined to rediscover the mean defensive streak that under-pinned their success last season when European qualification was secured.

After keeping three successive clean sheets, the Clarets have conceded 10 goals in their last three games.

And as Dyche prepares his players for arguably one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history – given the unchartered territory they are trying to reach against a side which has played Champions League football for the previous seven years – he is looking to build from a solid base and get the right balance of attack and defence against an Olympiakos side that have, historically, been poor travellers, and to build for the next phase of the Premier League campaign.

“We definitely want to get back to the basic principles of what we do, because I think that’s important,” said the Burnley boss.

“We’ve got a strong identity here, for the right reasons, and we have reminded the players of that identity and what it stands for.

“I had a discussion with them in the week and made it clear to them this was always going to be a discussion point because of the Europa League and the Premier League and how it comes together.

“We had a chat about various things; where we’re at, changing the squad, changing the team and how we’re finding everything.

“The feedback was positive about we know what we are and how we can keep moving it forward and we need to get back somewhat to that, because we have just lost our way a little bit with some of the defensive principles; the team that is – the team, not just the back five which is often just thought of as defending, the whole team principle of defending.

“It’s not a million miles away, though. Sometimes you have to hold you hand up and credit the opposition, but being the greedy manage like I am, defensively, you always think you can stop everything.”

Opposition camp

Coach Pedro Martins claimed in his pre-match press conference at Turf Moor that a 3-1 lead does not necessarily make his side favourites to progress.

He said: “Everybody knows how good Burnley can be at their stadium. They are at home so they will attack.

“I don’t think they will change dramatically and they will try and play from the first minute as they did in the last 10 minutes of the first half in our stadium.

“We will have to stay focused and play our way. We may change our strategy, but the main idea is to stay the same.”

Form guide

Olympiakos started their Greek Super League campaign with a 1-0 home win over Levadiakos last Sunday to extend their 100 per cent start to the season.

Lazaros Christodoulopoulos scored the goal, with coach Pedro Martins making three changes to the side that faced the Clarets a week ago.

The ‘Red and Whites’ have won their opening four games, having overcame Lucerne 7-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round of the Europa Cup before beating Burnley in the first leg of their play-off.

However, Olympiakos have not enjoyed their visits to England over the years, losing 12 of their 13 games in this country.

Their only win came at Arsenal in 2015, one of nine Champions League ties they have played in England.

The Clarets are without a Premier League win so far and lost their first European tie a week ago in Athens.

But Sean Dyche’s men have won both the home legs of their Europa League qualifiers in extra-time to set up tonight’s chance of making further progress.

Team news

Ben Gibson is suspended for the Clarets following his sending off for two cautions in the first leg.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson misses out through injury and Robbie Brady and Steven Defour are still out, but Matej Vydra could be in the Burnley squad.

Boss Sean Dyche has changed his starting line-up around for Europa and Premier League games over the past couple of weeks and is likely to do so again.

Olympiakos are expected to take Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure back for a second spell, although Toure, who played for the Greek club in 2005/06, can not be involved at Turf Moor even if a deal goes ahead.

Lively winger Daniel Podence and centre-back Roderick did not play in the Greek’s opening league game, while defender Andreas Bouchalakis came off the bench. The trio could start tonight.

Match stats

Two English teams have previously over-turned first-leg deficits in Europa League qualifiers to progress - Manchester City in 2008 and West Ham in 2016.

Olympiakos have lost 12 of their last 13 away games against English teams in European competition - nine of which were in the Champions League.

Olympiakos have not kept a clean sheet in any of their 13 away games against English opponents in Europe.

Referee

Hungarian Viktor Kassai, who refereed the 2011 Champions League final, is the man in charge.

Kick-off

7.45pm


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