Olympiacos host Anderlecht in their final Champions League group game on Tuesday night, knowing a win will secure them a place in the last 16 of the competition.
The Greek champions are a massive six points behind group toppers Paris Saint-Germain but are still second in the pool, level on points with Benfica. However, the Τhrylos do not have to worry about tonight's other fixture, between the Portuguese side and PSG, as their fate is still very much in their own hands.
If both Olympiacos and Benfica manage the same result tonight and finish level on points, the Greeks will go through on a better head-to-head record. At the same time, both clubs would not finish rockbottom in the group now, meaning even the one that misses out the second spot will at least have Europa League action to look forward to, for the second half of this season.
Olympiacos will be confident of wrapping up qualification tonight, having won the reverse fixture in Belgium 3-0 in October. However, they would have to do it without the services of red hot striker Kostas Mitroglou, who netted a hat-trick in that match. The 25-year-old, who has scored 21 goals for club and country so far this season, has been sidelined till the New Year with a knee injury, while vice-captain Giannis Maniatis is suspended.
"We deserve to qualify, but we have to finish what we started tomorrow. The players have worked very hard and possess the experience to understand the importance of the match. Our fans won't allow us to forget how vital the game is. We will play to win - to go through in front of our own fans is more than we could have wished for before the group stage started. The key will be the passion and heart that both teams are prepared to give," pointed out Olympiacos coach Michel.
"We wouldn't mind a repeat of the first game in Brussels. We expect all our players to shine tomorrow. Even without Kostas Mitroglou and Giannis Maniatis, we can adapt. We're not expecting any gifts from Anderlecht, we only expect them at Christmas. We respect Anderlecht but we are favourites to win. A great club like Anderlecht will come here to play football, they won't be on holiday yet," he added.
Meanwhile, Anderlecht stay rockbottom of the group and have no chance of clinching even a Europa League spot, having managed just one point from their first five matches. The Belgian champions will now finish bottom of their group for the seventh time in the competition's history.
As the cliché goes, John van den Brom's men still have pride to play for tonight, but after failing to win an away fixture in the Champions League proper since the 2005-06 season, chances are unlikely that they will pull off an upset and ruin the Greek party tonight.
"Just because we're resigned to finishing bottom, doesn't mean we're not going to play to win. We lost 3-0 at home despite giving one of our best performances. We have to look to the future, so playing well tomorrow is important for morale ahead of our domestic run-in. We played well at the weekend and will more or less use the same players tomorrow. The players are proud people, they want to make amends for the first game and collect points which will help us in future competition draws," van den Brom stressed.
Olympiacos: Other than Mitroglou (knee) and Maniatis (suspension), Michel has a full strength squad to choose from.
Anderlecht: Forward Matias Suarez (knee) remains sidelined, while midfielder Massimo Bruno is suspended. Meanwhile, wing-back Olivier Deschacht (ankle) is a major doubt for tonight.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 1.15 am IST start on Wednesday morning, with no live coverage in India. But you can live stream the match by clicking HERE. Viewers in the U.S. can catch the action via live streaming HERE. To watch the match in the U.K., click HERE. Viewers in North Africa and the Middle East click HERE.
Expected Lineups: Olympiacos: Roberto; Torres, Papadopoulos, Manolas, Bong; Machado, Samaris; Campbell, Dominguez, Fuster; Saviola
Anderlecht: Proto; Vanden Borre, Kouyate, Mbemba, N'Sakala; Praet, Kljestan, Gillet; Najar, Mitrovic, Bruno
Prediction: 3-1 to Olympiacos
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