Olympiakos will take on the Belgian club Anderlecht in a Champions League game tomorrow at Stade Constant Vanden Stock. This will be the second game for both these teams in the tournament.
Neither of these two teams has made a good start to its Champions League campaign this season. Both lost their opening games and that too by profound margins. Anderlecht was defeated by Benfica by 0-2, while, Olympiakos suffered a 1-4 defeat against the French club Paris Saint-Germain.
This is going to be the first match between these two teams in the last 39 years. The last time that they had faced each other was in the European Cup of 1974.
Anderlecht hasn’t had a great start in its domestic league either. They had won the league last season, but, they have started the new season in a rusty manner. They have suffered 3 defeats in their first 9 league matches and currently, they are at no. 4 in the points table. However, in their last game against Lierse, they had shown some good form and had secured a 2-0 win. So, they will be going into the match against Olympiakos with a bit of confidence.
On the other hand, Olympiakos has started fantastically well in its domestic league i.e. Greek Super League. They have won 5 out of their first 6 games and they are currently at the top of the points table. So, they are also a confident side at the moment.
Some vital players from both the sides will not feature in this game. The Anderlecht midfielder Ronald Vargas had gone through a knee operation in July and he has still not completely recovered from that. So, he will not give his services to his team.
A couple of Olympiakos players i.e. Paulo Machado and David Fuster will also miss out. Machado is suffering from knee injury, while, Fuster has picked up hamstring strain.
Fulham and Giorgos Karagounis have made a sensational return by agreeing a new contract that will see the midfielder play for the club for one more season. The Greek midfielder was signed by the club on a free transfer only a year ago. He was one of the best players for the club in an otherwise dull season. Fulham decided not to extend the contract of the 36-year-old, who made 28 appearances in the Premier league last season. He was a free transfer from Greek club Panathinaikos. After his release from Fulham, the 36-year-old was linked with several clubs across Europe especially after his good performances with the Premier league outfit.
However, Fulham have made a sensational U-turn by offering him a new deal, which has been accepted by the player as well. This will see Karagounis play for Fulham until the summer of 2014. Fulham finished 12th in the Premier league last season. They were recently subjected to a takeover bid from a US owner. This will bring an end to the 16 year spell for the Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed. Karagounis has made the most number of appearances for the Greece national team, and his experience will be a major boost for Fulham in the coming season.
Despite being at the twilight of his career, the 36-year-old managed to win the Fans’ Player of the Season award at Fulham last year. He was only recently linked with a move to Australian club Melbourne Victory. Karagounis has played for the likes of Inter Milan and Benfica during his stellar career. He was part of the Greek team that managed to win the Euro 2004 in one of the more surprising fashions. In total, he has made 125 appearances for the national team. Martin Jol is yet to break the bank by signing high profile players.
Fulham manager Martin Jol has confirmed that midfielder Giorgos Karagounis will be leaving the club at the end of the season along with Simon Davies after the club decided not to extend their contracts. Both midfielders were out of contract at the end of the season. Giorgos Karagounis was a free transfer just under a year ago, but the 36-year-old has become an instant hit with the Fulham faithful. Even though he has been putting him great performances over the course of the season, it has not been enough for him to earn a new contract.
Jol has said that the player is likely to play his final game for the club on Sunday. Even though he has been terrific for the club, this decision has been taken with his age in mind. Davies will also be leaving the club at the end of the season. The 33-year-old has spent the last six years at the club making more than 150 appearances for the club. However, Jol has said that serious fitness issues over the last few seasons have taken a toll on the player. Davies has not been consistently fit over the course of the season to earn him a new contract according to Jol.
“It is most likely that Sunday will be the last game that Giorgos will play for Fulham. He’s had a terrific year and the Premier league was a great experience. There would be options for him to stay in England and would consider any challenges that may be available. It’s very good that the fans of Fulham have recognised his contributions this season to vote him as the second best player and he will always have them in his heart,” said Jol. Derek Boateng is expected to join the club on a free transfer.
Leeds United appointed the former QPR manager Neil Warnock in the hope of getting to the Premier league even through the play-offs. Warnock has said numerous times that he will be prepared to leave Leeds United if the club do not achieve this objective. It seems that Leeds United will not be able to finish even in the play-offs this season. As a result, the former Sheffield United and QPR manager has said that he has spoken with the club about his possible successors. Leeds have failed to win any of their last four matches. As a result, they are 10th in the championship table now.
Further, there is a seven point gap that the club needs to make up in the remaining few matches of the championship in order to finish in the top six. Only the top six clubs can think about promotion at the end of the regular season. Since taking over last February, Warnock has overseen 60 Leeds United matches. They have managed to win 23 and lose 22 matches during this period. Warnock has admitted that the club is running out of games in their hopes of finishing in the top six. He has pointed to the lack of aspects of quality and pace as the main reasons for their inability to finish in the top six.
“Once we’re out of contention they know I won’t be having another year in the Championship. We’ve spoken about my successor, about people coming in if mathematically it’s impossible to get into the play-offs. Realistically we’re running out of games and [the owners] GFH know my situation, I speak to them on a regular basis. I’d like to think that I’d have an input on that because the job we’ve done over the last 12 months, the staff and I, I think is fantastic,” said Warnock.