Wolves vs Olympiacos Europa League preview

Wolves host Olympiacos in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie with the score level at 1-1 – all you need to know.

The teams

Wolves (ENG)
UEFA ranking: 85 (14)
Domestic position: 7 (final match: 26 July)
How they got here: Group K runners-up, 6-3 Espanyol
Last season: N/A (previous campaign: 1980/81)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: runners-up (1971/72)

Olympiacos (GRE)
UEFA ranking: 34 (7)
Domestic position: champions (final match: 19 July)
How they got here: UEFA Champions League group stage, 2-2aet Arsenal (away goals)
Last season: round of 32 (lost 3-2 v Dynamo Kyiv)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: round of 16 (1989/90, 2004/05, 2011/12, 2016/17)

Possible line-ups

Wolves: Rui Patrício; Boly, Coady, Saïss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Traoré, Jiménez, Podence
Out: none
Misses next game if booked: Kilman, Podence
Players added to squad
: Christian Marques
Players removed from squad: Chem Campbell, Luke Cundle, Taylor Perry, Lewis Richards, Terry Taylor

Olympiacos: Allain; Elabdellaoui, Cissé, Ba, Tsimikas; Guilherme, Camara, Bouchalakis, Valbuena, Masouras; El-Arabi
Out: Semedo (suspended), José Sá (wrist)
Misses next game if booked: Ba, Bouchalakis, Camara, Guilherme, El-Arabi
Players added to squad
: Cafú, Ahmed Hassan
Players removed from squad: Emiljano Bullari, Hilal Soudani

Reporters' views

Tom Kell, Wolves reporter: Make no mistake: Wolves believe they can win this competition. Imbued with the relentless focus of their manager, the players have had faith even when starting out in the second qualifying round. Pedro Neto's goal in Piraeus means the hosts are in pole position to reach the last eight, which would ensure their Europa League campaign extends to a minimum of 17 games. Don't bet against them making it 19.

Vassiliki Papantonopoulou, Olympiacos reporter: The absence of first-choice keeper José Sá, hitherto pivotal in Olympiacos’ fine European campaign, means that Bobby Allain will be thrown in at the deep end for his European debut. Securing their 45th Greek Super League title was smooth sailing for Olympiacos; coach and players are now gearing up for a more gruelling test in England, more than five months after their sensational qualification at the expense of Arsenal in London. If their defence can hold firm despite the absences of Sá and suspended Rubén Semedo, their well-tuned attack can do the rest.

What the coaches say

Nuno, Wolves coach: "I know that they'll be ready, as we are. We look at them and the qualities and talent they have. We have analysed and know a tough opponent is in front of us, but we're looking at ourselves. I think the players are ready to go. We have all our players available for tomorrow and everyone is committed. Everybody is OK. The players speak and share opinions, and Daniel [Podence] is a big source of information, so we have to take that from him. I know [Pedro Martins] very well as we played together. We were team-mates. He's a very good friend of mine. For sure, both of us want our teams to perform well, but the friendship will be there."

Pedro Μartins, Olympiacos coach: "Everybody is aware of Wolves' fine run this season. They have quality, play high-class football and are clinical on the pitch. But we are Olympiacos. We have a very good side and our rivals saw that in the first leg at Piraeus. They know us and we know them. We expect an exciting encounter, as both teams are highly motivated to win and qualify."

Previous meetings

• Wolves' first UEFA encounter with opponents from Greece ended all square in Piraeus on 12 March as a deflected 67th-minute strike from substitute Pedro Neto cancelled out an earlier El Arabi effort from close range.

• A 3-2 victory at Arsenal in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage ended Olympiacos's sequence of 12 defeats in as many visits to England. They have since drawn 1-1 at Burnley and lost 4-2 at Tottenham before claiming that all-important second win at Arsenal last month.

• The round of 32 success against Arsenal made it two consecutive victories in two-legged ties against English sides for Olympiacos following last season's UEFA Europa League play-off win against Burnley (3-1 h). The Piraeus club had lost all of their six previous such ties.

Form guide

• In their first season after promotion to the Premier League, Wolves finished seventh in 2018/19 to return to European competition for the first time since they lost in the first round of the 1980/81 UEFA Cup to PSV Eindhoven.

• Wolves began this UEFA Europa League campaign in July 2019 and went on to win all six qualifying matches, knocking out Crusaders, Pyunik and, in the play-offs, Torino. They lost their opening group game, 0-1 at home to Braga, but took maximum points off Beşiktaş (1-0 a, 4-0 h) and Slovan Bratislava (2-1 a, 1-0 h) as well as drawing 3-3 in northern Portugal.

• The West Midlanders' best European experience by some distance – and their only other post-Christmas participation in UEFA competition – came in the inaugural UEFA Cup of 1971/72, when they went all the way to the final before losing 3-2 on aggregate to English rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

• The Matchday 1 defeat by Braga ended a seven-game European winning streak at Molineux that had lasted since Wolves were beaten 2-1 by Spurs in the first leg of that 1972 UEFA Cup final. They have won their three home games since, all with clean sheets, beating Slovan, Beşiktaş and Espanyol. Their home record in Europe this season is W6 L1 with 17 goals for and two against.

• Wolves have progressed on all three previous occasions when they drew the first away leg of a UEFA two-legged tie, including twice on their 1971/72 UEFA Cup run – in the quarter-final against Juventus (1-1 a, 2-1 h) and the semi-final against Ferencváros (2-2 a, 2-1 h).


• Second in the 2018/19 Greek Super League behind PAOK, Olympiacos went from the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round to the round of 32, where, having memorably eliminated AC Milan in the group stage, they were knocked out by Dynamo Kyiv (2-2 h, 0-1 a).

• This season Olympiacos returned to the UEFA Champions League group stage, earning their 19th participation with convincing qualifying victories over Viktoria Plzeň, İstanbul Başakşehir and Krasnodar. However, after drawing their opening group game against Tottenham, they lost the next four and were indebted to El Arabi's 87th-minute penalty in their final fixture at home to Crvena zvezda for the win they needed to leapfrog the Serbian champions into third place.

• This is Olympiacos's third appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 16, the previous two having both ended in defeat – against Metalist Kharkiv, on away goals, in 2011/12 (0-1 a, 2-1 h) and Beşiktaş in 2016/17 (1-1 h, 1-4 a). The club have only ever reached two European quarter-finals – in the 1992/93 European Cup Winners' Cup and the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League.

• Excluding the qualifying phase Olympiacos have lost nine of their last 11 European away fixtures, the exceptions a 2-0 win at Dudelange in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage and February's extra-time victory at Arsenal. In this season's UEFA Champions League they were beaten at Crvena zvezda (1-3), Bayern München (0-2) and Tottenham.

• Olympiacos have won only one of the 13 UEFA ties in which they were held to a home first-leg draw – against Osmanlıspor in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (0-0 h, 3-0 a). On the most recent of the four occasions that they drew the first leg 1-1 in Piraeus, against Beşiktaş in that same season's round of 16, they lost the return in Istanbul 4-1.

Links & trivia

• Two Olympiacos players have had brief spells in England – Omar Elabdellaoui (who started his career in Manchester City's youth team) at Hull City in 2016/17 and Andreas Bouchalakis at Nottingham Forest in 2017/18.

• The clubs are both led by Portuguese coaches. Nuno Espírito Santo (Wolves) and Pedro Martins (Olympiacos), who were Vitória SC team-mates in 1994/95, have met six times as head coaches in the Portuguese Liga. Martins' Marítimo won two and drew two against Nuno’s Rio Ave in 2012/13 and 2013/14, but Nuno's Porto won home and away against Martins' Vitória SC in 2016/17.

• Nuno succeeded Martins as Rio Ave head coach in 2014.

• Wolves signed Daniel Podence from Olympiacos in January. The Portuguese winger scored for the Piraeus club at home to Tottenham in this season's UEFA Champions League.

• Olympiacos defender Rúben Semedo played with Podence and Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patrício for Sporting CP in 2016/17, while the Greek side's Portuguese 'keeper José Sá was a team-mate of Willy Boly, Diogo Jota and Rúben Neves in Nuno's Porto side that same season.

• El Arabi and Wolves defender Romain Saïss have been international team-mates for Morocco since 2012.

• Diogo Jota's hat-trick for Wolves against Beşiktaş on Matchday 6, with goals in the 58th, 63rd and 69th minutes, was the third fastest in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. When he replicated that feat against Espanyol in the round of 32 first leg, he became the first player to score a hat-trick on consecutive UEFA Europa League matchdays, although Klaas-Jan Huntelaar managed trebles on successive appearances for Schalke in 2011/12, on Matchdays 8 and 10, missing the game in between.

• Wolves were among six UEFA Europa League group stage debutants this season; only one of the others, LASK, are still involved. Ferencváros, Olexandriya and Wolfsberg were all eliminated in the group stage and Espanyol, by Wolves, in the round of 32.

• Olympiacos are one of four UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, along with Bayer Leverkusen, Internazionale and Shakhtar Donetsk.

• Olympiacos and Wolves are each playing their 16th European fixture of the season, making it both clubs' longest ever continental campaign.

• The Piraeus giants claimed a record-extending 45th Greek league title at the end of June, securing their triumph with six games to spare.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Neither Wolves nor Olympiacos have ever featured in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.

Source: UEFA 

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