Another Thursday night

Olympiacos in the Uefa Conference League semi-final. It’s getting serious.

Thursday night is match night and this one is the biggest European game Villa Park has hosted for decades. Olympiacos might not be up there at the level of Barcelona, Juventus or Atletico Madrid but it’s a semi-final and it’s a sell-out. That means it should be a great occasion, perhaps not as great as if it was the second leg although you should know by now that we can’t do things the easy way.

The opposition have won the Greek league title 47 times, while the rest of Greece has won forty put together. They’ve got Ninety thousand members, which is the ninth-biggest in the world and their rivalry with Panathinaikos is known as the ‘Derby of the Eternal Enemies,’ which has a ring to it. Olympiacos are, it’s far to say, a bit popular in Greece. The good news is that they’re not too clever outside Greece and this is the best they’ve ever done in any European competition.

Because of their size they’re likely to have a few supporters dotted around the ground as well as a very noisy away section. Broad Street, or Hurst Street, or wherever they might be will very likely be a bit lively but we should be used to that by now. We are, after all, regulars in Europe. They’ve got a player on loan from Wolves who’s Portugese, amazingly. Their manager is a Basque, which is a good start, and used to manage Seville, which is even better. The similarity ends there.

We’re not exactly at the stage of bring your boots and get there early, but only because we had to give Uefa a list of eligible playeers and you’re not on it. Still, we’ll all be playing our part. It’s a night game, it’s under lights, it’s at Villa Park and we all know what that means. Let the whistle sound and the magic commence.