The time has finally come for Tottenham to get back on the Champions League horse, just three months after that heartbreaking final that shall not be further dwelled on.
For now is the time to look at the future, and the future is Olympiacos at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. Don’t know much about the Greek lads? Afraid of what to expect? Desperate for some knowledge to back-up your beer-fuelled claims ahead of the game?
Well, fear not, your care package of stats have arrived, courtesy of Opta, and I assure you each is more tantalising than the last. Ella re (that means ‘come on’ in Greek, and you can have that for free), dive in.
Think the boys from Piraeus will be an easy proposition? Think again.
That’s because, since 2009-10, Olympiacos have won five of their six European home matches against English opposition, with three wins against Arsenal and one apiece against Manchester United and European heavyweights Burnley.
Their only defeat? A 3-0 loss to Arsenal at home in the 2015 group stage. A north London omen, perhaps.
Not only do Olympiacos possess a perfect record from their first three league games, they’ve also won their last five matches in European competition (all qualifiers).
The catch is that they have never won six consecutive such matches in their history, so it’ll be the history makers or breakers on Wednesday night.
These two sides have met just twice before in a competitive fixture. Both of those games came way back in the 1972/73 edition of the UEFA Cup, when Spurs won 4-0 at home in the first-leg of their Last 32 tie, before losing 1-0 away in the return leg.
50 Up for Poch
This is a seminal game for a myriad of reasons, but spare a thought for old Mauricio Pochettino, who will be taking charge of his 50th European game as manager of Spurs.
It’s a hell of an achievement, only bettered by Bill Nicholson, who oversaw 55 European games for the club. Now, I don’t want to jinx it, but that record should now be in the bag.
Harry Kane vs Greece
Harry Kane hates Greece.
Twice he has come up against Greek opposition, and twice he has triumphed, notching four goals. This includes a hat-trick against Asteras Tripolis in the 5-1 homes win back in 2014.
Harry Kane hates Greece.
No Kane No Gain
And that’s not the only fortunate foreboding as far as Kane’s goalscoring goes, with the English striker having contributed to 15 goals in his last 14 Champions League appearances.
That’s 12 goals and three assists. Prolific.
The Actual Streak
So, remember that streak mentioned earlier concerning Olympiacos. Well, considering its inclusion of qualifiers, it may not be as relevant as this completely contrasting one concerning the UCL.
That’s because the Red and Whites are winless in their last eight Champions League matches (one draw, seven losses), with their last victory coming against Dinamo Zagreb in November 2015.
That makes it their joint-longest winless run in the competition alongside an eight-game run ending in October 2003. Yikes.
The Group Stage Caveat
That being said, all is not rosy for Spurs in the Champions League world, either. Which is weird, seeing as they were the second-best team in the whole thing last year. But it turns their knockout knockout stage performances (see what I did there) belied some serious group stage struggles, especially *warning sign blaring* away from home.
Pochettino’s men failed to win any of their group stage games away from home in 2018-19 (drawing two, losing one) but won two of the three on the road in those knockout stages; beating Borussia Dortmund and Ajax on their way to the final.
So, should the worst happen in Attica, don’t worry, it’s all part of a wider plan.