Averting another Greek tragedy – Barcelona v Olympiacos top talking points

Barcelona aim to make it three straight Champions League wins this season when they take on Group D rivals Olympiacos at Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Here, Football Paradise takes a look at the talking points before the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides.

Barca march towards knockout stages

Ernesto Valverde’s side have made a flying start to the current campaign with their 100 per cent start in LaLiga halted in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid. Barca made the trip to the Spanish capital on the back of nine straight wins, including Champions League victories over Juventus and Sporting Lisbon, which put them in control at the top of Group D. Another victory for them on Wednesday night would be another big step towards early qualification for the knockout stages.

Messi shoulders burden and thrives

Lionel Messi is relishing his role as chief playmaker and goalscorer following the departure of Neymar. Fellow striker Luis Suarez has struggled for consistency this season, but the Argentinian has flourished, scoring 17 goals in 16 appearances for club and country. He stepped up to the plate when Argentina needed him recently by firing a hat-trick in Ecuador to ensure their World Cup qualification and showed no signs of fatigue at the weekend when he twice hit the woodwork against Atletico.

Olympiacos reunion for Valverde

Barca coach Valverde has had two highly successful spells in charge of Olympiacos and is revered by the Greek club’s fans. He won the league and cup double in his first season in charge in 2009, but opted not to renew his contract at the end of his first season and returned to Spain to take charge of Villarreal. Valverde returned to Olympiacos in 2010, led them to the Greek title again and steered them towards another before heading back to Spain in April 2012 to take charge of Valencia.

New coach, new miserly defence

Valverde has overseen a marked improvement in Barca defensively this season. Only three teams have managed to score against them in 10 matches – Getafe, Eibar and Atletico – while the goals continue to flow at the other end. Should Los Blaugrana keep another clean sheet on Wednesday, it will be their best start to a season in terms of goals against after 12 games since 1992. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti have been key to their consistency.

Another Greek tragedy?

Barcelona and Olympiacos will meet for the first time in a competitive fixture. The Catalans have won all their previous games against Greek clubs at Camp Nou – Panathinaikos, Panionios, AEK and PAOK have visited six times between them – scoring 26 goals and conceding only three. Olympiacos have made a poor start to their domestic season, lying fifth in the table, while they have lost both Champions League Group D games this season, 3-2 at home against sporting and 2-0 to Juventus in Turin.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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