Rijeka are the current title holders in Croatia, after they were able to overcome giant Dinamo Zagreb last season.
Rijeka: This year they already got behind their rivals in the league table, although it is still early days and it is more than recoverable.
Rijeka isn’t a very experienced side on this European context and they don’t have a very strong squad.
However, they have been doing decently and they have already eliminated in previous rounds The New Saints, with two wins, and then going through on away goals against Salzburg, with two draws.
On this round, they have lost 2-1 on the 1st leg in Greece, conceding the 2nd goal already in the final minutes of the match, but they had a good showing.
Their defender Zhuta was sent off in the 1st leg so he will be missing for this match.
Olympiakos: This Greek side hasn’t had much competition internally.
They are always present on these European competitions, having experience in both the Europa League and Champions League.
Last year they lost in this play-off round, getting eliminated by the Israeli champions.
This season, their goal is going through to the group stage and in the previous leg they did well, by eliminating Partizan with a 3-1 win away and a 2-2 draw at home, in a tie where they were always in control.
In the 1st leg, they had a tough match against Rijeka but they eventually won 2-1, coming back from behind and getting the win thanks to a goal that came past the 90th minute.
They started their domestic league this weekend with a comfortable win that should give them confidence going into this 2nd leg affair.
This team has players like Pardo, Sebá and Carcela, all players who already played in the Portuguese top tier, as well as the Portuguese Diogo Figueiras, that got on the score sheet on their last match.
Rijeka vs Olympiakos Pick:
It willl surely be a nervy one, because the 2-1 advantage for Olympiakos achieved in the 1st leg is not guaranteed and this tie is still wide open.
I expect Rijeka to try hard to score, but they are facing Olympiakos, who can be a sneaky team offensively, with strong and big players physically who can score at any time.
The exhibition away against Partizan was good and we saw an Olympiakos side that didn’t need to abstain from attacking and trying to score.
Rijeka is usually solid defending but in this match, they need to be aggressive and go on the attack, to score some goals, so the situation might be a little different.
I see the Greeks accomplishing their objective of qualifying to the group stage, so they should be able to get at least a draw in this match. I’m going with X2 here.
|Olympiakos or draw||