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Europa League | Group Stage
Sep 16, 2021 at 8pm UK
Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki
Royal Antwerp
2 - 1
El-Arabi (52'), Reabciuk (87')
Abou Cisse (49'), Camara (67')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Samatta (75')
Verstraete (4'), Bataille (52')
Bataille (90+1')

Preview: Olympiacos vs. Royal Antwerp - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Olympiacos and Royal Antwerp, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Olympiacos welcome Royal Antwerp to the Karaiskakis Stadium for the opening game of the 2021-22 Europa League on Thursday evening.

Both sides successfully navigated the qualifying round but will be looking to improve on disappointing starts to their respective league campaigns as they meet for the very first time.

Match preview

Olympiacos' Youssef El-Arabi celebrates scoring against Arsenal in the Europa League on March 18, 2021© Reuters

Olympiacos come into the game on the back of a shock goalless draw at home to Atromitos in the season-opener of the Greek Super League on Sunday.

The Greek champions have triumphed in nine of the last 11 seasons but were unable to overcome a team who usually find themselves in and around the mid-table spots.

They created opportunity after opportunity and piled on the pressure as the match drew to a close but could not find the back of the net and were forced to settle for a single point, as rivals Panathinaikos won and now sit atop the league standings.

The Thrylos were far more successful in their two previous competitive games, as they comfortably secured their spot in the group stage of this competition by virtue of a 5-2 aggregate victory over Slovan Bratislava in the playoff round.

Most of the legwork was done in a 3-0 home win in the first leg, and manager Pedro Martins will be hoping they can recreate that kind of fast start on Thursday, rather than their slow one in the league.

FC Midtjylland manager Brian Priske pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Antwerp did win their most recent league game - a Michael Frey goal securing a narrow 1-0 victory over AS Eupen - but they are far from where they would expect to be in a campaign that is much further along than their Greek counterparts.

New manager Brian Priske has endured a tough start to life in Belgium, after a successful reign at FC Midtjylland, and his side find themselves down in 12th in the Belgian First Division A.

The Great Old sit on just eight points after their opening six games, with the season having started with back-to-back league defeats at the hands of Mechelen and Kortrijk, and have also made hard work of their progress in the Europa League.

A third-placed finish in the top flight last season granted Antwerp entry to the competition at the playoff round, meaning only a two-legged affair with Omonia of Cyprus stood between them and the group stage.

They lost the first leg 4-2, however, and - after Pieter Gerkens pulled them level in the 84th minute of the second leg - required penalties to progress.

Olympiacos Europa League form:
  • W
  • D

Olympiacos form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D

Royal Antwerp Europa League form:
  • L
  • W

Royal Antwerp form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Team News

Olympiacos midfielder Kostas Fortounis in action in December 2018

Konstantinos Fortounis is the only injury concern for Olympiacos, but that means Martins must once again work around the absence of his creative hub, as he works his way back from a cruciate ligament rupture.

Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik has recovered from the leg injury he sustained while on international duty and should retain his spot in goal.

It remains to be seen how much the manager chooses to rotate his side for this tournament.

Antwerp have far more injury problems, with Michel-Ange Balikwisha, Fars Haroun, Sam Vines and Alhassan Yusuf all sidelined by fitness issues.

Furthermore, Sander Coopman and Bruny Nsimba will undergo late evaluations to determine their availability, as they look to return from ACL and foot injuries respectively.

Both sides look likely to line up in their regular 4-4-2 formation.

Olympiacos possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Reabciuk, Cisse, Sokratis, Ba; Onyekuru, Lopes, M'Vila, Valbuena; Soares, El Arabi

Royal Antwerp possible starting lineup:
Butez; Bataille, De Laet, Engels, Buta; Verstraete, Nainggolan, Gerkens, Benson; Eggestein, Frey

SM words green background

We say: Olympiacos 1-0 Royal Antwerp

Both teams will be determined to get off to a positive start in Group D, but will surely be wary of an opening defeat, so it could be a cagey match.

Olympiacos have shown a penchant for draws in recent weeks but have a much higher pedigree than their visitors and, despite not being in the best of form, the difference in quality should see them secure the three points.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Data Analysis

Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats up until an hour before kickoff, suggested the most likely outcome of this match was a Olympiacos win with a probability of 60.06%. A draw had a probability of 22.9% and a win for Royal Antwerp had a probability of 17.04%.

The most likely scoreline for a Olympiacos win was 1-0 with a probability of 13.09%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome were 2-0 (11.68%) and 2-1 (9.67%). The likeliest drawn scoreline was 1-1 (10.84%), while for a Royal Antwerp win it was 0-1 (6.08%). The actual scoreline of 2-1 was predicted with a 9.7% likelihood. Our data analysis correctly predicted that Olympiacos would win this match.

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Game History

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Tables header RHS

Group A

QWest Ham650115
4Backa Topola60151

Group B

4AEK Athens61144

Group C

QSparta Prague631210
4Aris Limassol61144

Group D

QSporting Lisbon632111
3Sturm Graz61144

Group E

3Union SG62228

Group F

3M. Haifa61235

Group G

QSlavia Prague650115
4Sheriff Tiraspol60151

Group H

QB. Leverkusen660018

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