Champions League: Olympiacos 3 – 2 Atlético
Atleti fall to defeat away in Greece to spirited Olympiacos team
Atlético Madrid have started their Champions League campaign with a disappointing 3-2 defeat away to Olympiakos, despite dominating large portions of the match in Athens.
Goals from Mario Mandzukic and the substitute Antoine Griezmann twice brought Atlético back to within one goal, but it wasn’t to be as the hosts made the most of their opportunities to record a massive win over last season’s Champions League finalists.
German Burgos, on orders of the again-suspended Diego Simeone, handed a debut to Jan Oblak this evening, who makes his first appearance since completing a €16 million move to Madrid in the summer.
It’s been hard for him to dislodge Miguel Angel Moya, who got the nod from Simeone at the start of the season and hasn’t looked back since.
Either goalkeeper would have struggled with a defence that doesn’t concentrate – and that’s exactly what happened for the first goal this evening.
A cross from the right-hand side was cleverly hooked over his own bar by Miranda, giving up a corner to the Greeks. It was from the resulting corner that Olympiacos took the lead.
A short corner from Ibrahim Afellay, the former Barcelona player, wasn’t picked up, and it allowed a pass to tee up Arthur Masuaku. The 20-year-old French defender wasn’t put under any kind of pressure, and he fired a low shot across goal into the corner of Oblak’s net.
Immediately after the goal, Atleti began to string some passes together and build some attacks, and Mandzukic, who had already had a pretty nasty elbow to the face at this point, had a number of headers that were over and wide of the uprights.
Juanfran created a good opportunity, skilfully making his way past 2 Olympiacos defenders and crossing at the touchline, but Raul Garcia was unable to provide the finish.
With pressure mounting, and it only seeming like a matter of time before Atleti found an equaliser, it was of course Olympiacos who scored the next goal.
Afellay, after nabbing an assist at the start of the game, found the back of the Atleti net after Mario Suarez and Godin looked to collide after both trying to cut out the same loose pass. The Dutch winger cooly slotted the ball past Oblak to make it 2-0 to Olympiacos.
Atleti got their first goal back just 6 minutes later, after a spectacular cross in from Cristian Ansaldi. The Argentine whipped in a cross from the left hand side and Mandzukic beat 2 players to get a well timed head to it, nodding the ball past the former Atlético goalkeeper Roberto.
For the remainder of the first half Atleti dominated the game, and for the majority of the second looked the most likely team to score.
Antoine Griezmann came in for the substituted Gabi, for his Champions League debut with Atleti, and had three or four chances straight away.
He first stung the hands of Roberto with a blistering shot from outside of the area, before testing the goalkeeper’s reflexes with a powerful low shot down to his right.
In an attempt to make the most of the chances, Atleti brought on Alessio Cerci for his debut to replace Raul Garcia, but the Italian did very little to help the cause.
Griezmann had another shot which looked like it could have been the moment – but this was followed again by another goal from the home side.
Pajtim Asali burst down the right side of the box and crossed to the out-of-form Kostas Mitroglou – who took some time to pivot before sticking it through the legs of our debutant Jan Oblak to make it 3-1.
A late goal four minutes from time from Antoine Griezmann, after a brilliant cross into a danger area from Koke, was nothing but a consolation in the end, despite triggering a frantic end to the game.
Atleti look increasingly like they are struggling without the presence of Diego Simeone on the touchline – but the difficulty of travelling to an atmosphere like that in Athens tonight would have been a test for any team.
Atlético will be glad to have gotten what could be the toughest trip of the tournament out of the way early. However they find themselves third in the group after Juventus beat Malmo 2-0 in Turin.
What did you make of tonight’s performance, and tonight’s debutants?
|Afellay 31'||Mandzukic 38'|
|Mitroglou 73'||Griezmann 86'|
|UEFA Champions League|
|Karaiskakis Stadium, Greece|
|16 September 2014|
|Mario Suarez (75')|
|Raul Garcia (66')|