OLYMPIACOS – MATCH REPORT VS AEK ATHENS (13/02/2022)

Olympiacos got away with the win against AEK Athens with a late game-winning set-piece goal by Yann M’Vila, for the 23rd Matchday of Greek Superleague. The Reds lined-up in a 4-2-3-1 against AEK’s 4-4-2 low block and despite having the majority of possession for the biggest part of the game, they struggled to create high end opportunities in settled possessions. With the defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila dropping in the first line to create a +1, the fullbacks pushing high and wide and an aim to overload the last line, Olympiacos tried to stretch the opposition block and used long switches of play towards the fullbacks to cross or find pockets of space in the last line. Decision-making in the final part of the pitch let down the attackers of both sides – especially in the transition situations that arose for both teams.

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at a level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Aguibou Camara

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Guinean
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 20/05/2001
  • Club: Olympiacos
  • Career: Eleph. Coleah, LOSC Lille, Olympiacos
  • Position: Attacking Midfielder
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Aguibou Camara started as a left winger, but was also used as an attacking midfielder, as well as a central midfielder throughout the game, showing impressive versatility for his age. What stood out more about his game was his ability to resist pressure in tight areas, especially in second ball and transition situations in the middle third.

Those displays were shown mostly in the first half, when AEK Athens used long balls in their build-up towards his side. Aguibou’s technique allowed him to get out of pressure and create space for himself in crowded areas (often by the sideline), rarely wasting possession and finding a free teammate nearby with a short pass. At the same time, in these types of situations, he showed an excellent attitude toward counter-pressing and the ability to read the game. At times pressing multiple opponents in the same sequence, going backwards and creating overloads for his team. Despite lacking size, he wasn’t afraid of going into physical challenges against bigger opponents using his agility, balance and superior touch with the ball to gain an advantage.

On the creative side of his game, he was usually positioned in the space behind AEK Athens’ midfield line, but Olympiakos struggled to find many openings from that space and mostly used the isolated fullbacks to reach the final 3rd. The large distances between Olympiakos’ players and the lopsided to the right side attack, didn’t allow him to show his ability in combination plays in the last part of the pitch, as well as his off-ball movement. The majority of his final third touches, in the first half came in semi-transition situations. Where he used his first touch efficiently to create good momentum for himself, but was often too eager to play the final pass and was maybe too vertical, missing other better options – especially overlapping runs by the near-side fullback. In these situations, he could also use his ball-retention skills and be more patient until more teammates joined the attack in better spots. 

At the start of the second half, he played as attacking midfielder and was able to get more touches between the lines with more short passing options. He received mostly with his back on goal and took a more conservative approach in his actions recycling possession and trying to find a teammate with their face on goal. When he received the ball with more space around him similar rushed decision-making patterns were noticed as mentioned above. 

While Olympiacos were pushing to score a winning goal in the last 10 minutes, he moved in the central midfield spot in 4-2-3-1. There weren’t many organised defensive block sequences for his team in that time span for him to be judged upon, but that decision from his manager speaks a lot not only about his defensive and physical effort but also about his mental aspects. Especially as the time passed by and his team was more exposed in defensive transitions he showed the ability to make high-intensity runs and sprints even to the edge of his own team’s box, covering more advanced and tired teammates and going all-in on challenges. He was subbed off in the 90th minute after his team had gotten the lead.

Rating – A2

Even in a match where he lacked end-product, Aguibou Camara could show his ability to get past pressure in compact situations, as well as put his opponents under immense pressure. He showed great attitude to get physical and help his team keep a clean sheet with his defensive efforts. His team’s attacking strategy and lack of creators didn’t help him get into shooting positions himself, nor get involved in combination plays, but he didn’t take many initiatives in that aspect either. 

Oleg Reabciuk

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Moldovian/Portuguese
  • Age: 24
  • Date of Birth: 16/01/1998
  • Club: Olympiacos
  • Career: FC Porto, Pacos Ferreira, Olympiacos
  • Position: Left Back
  • Preferred Foot: Left

Oleg Reabciuk played as a left-back for Olympiakos and had a very challenging evening dealing with one of the best wingers in the league, Levi Garcia. Reabciuk’s physical intensity set him apart from his opponents and he was the key reason Garcia’s influence was restricted. He started the game strongly winning his first ground duels: the first one from the rest-defence showing good awareness to accelerate and decelerate to force his opponent towards the sideline, control space and attack at the heavy touch and the second one by retaining his balance in a wide 1v1 against Garcia’s explosive touch to block his cross. In another 1v1 in the first half, he was ready to follow his opponent’s high speed with the ball, getting in front and using his body aggressively to win a foul from the challenge. 

Reabciuk was also very physically intense in his aerial duels. As AEK Athens went long and targeted his mismatch against Levi Garcia, in the three situations where the two of them challenged in the air, Reabciuk matched up to his opponent’s strength from behind. Twice he tried to use a dynamic advantage running towards his opponent to get above him, committing a foul, but giving his opponent a hard time. In the third one from a more static position, he used his upper body strength to push his opponent, leading to a second ball won by his team and Garcia asking the referee for a foul. That type of aggression might not be the best strategy on a consistent basis, but offered a solution in this specific match scenario and was a nice demonstration of his determination.

Another positive of Reabciuk’s performance was his ability to contribute in both transition phases. In attack he made a couple overlapping runs from deep, stretching the defence and giving more time and space to his teammates. However, in those situations he was rarely picked as a passing option. In defensive transitions he was the first to sprint back, reaching top speed early on and helping his team maintain balance and superiority in this phase of the game. 

That attitude and ability to be the first one to run back in the defence was even more impressive considering his role in possession. Oleg was the width provider for his team from the left, positioned very high and wide – therefore having even bigger distances to cover when transitioning to defence. From that position he would receive long switches of play, showing good first touch in a pretty-much rehearsed pattern but not being able to penetrate after the first touch. In the final third after one or two touches, he would either win a foul or attempt a deep cross from the wide channel, showing a limited ability to carry forwards confidently and be a consistent creator for his team with his crossing. In the defensive and middle third, he would pass safely, usually backwards, showing little to no initiative to big a progressive outlet with his passing and support. 

Rating – B1

Oleg Reabciuk showed great work rate in this match, coupled with a remarkable set of physical skills, especially his speed and acceleration. He combined an aggressive attitude in 1v1 defending with decent awareness of the various situations and coped very well against one of the most difficult opponents in the league. He was a weapon in transition phases, but his current limitations in possession as a creative outlet against a settled block set the ceiling to his potential in possession dominant teams. 

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