Greek Glory : Olympiacos Make History With Conference League Triumph

El Kaabi’s Extra-Time Heroics Secure Historic Win For The Team From Piraeus.
Totti, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Totti, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Today, on May 29, 2024, Olympiacos made history by becoming the first Greek football team to lift a trophy at the continental level.

 Olympiacos played in the UEFA Europa Conference League final against Italian side Fiorentina at the Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens. 

The match, which was Olympiacos’ first appearance in a European final, was set to be a historical night since it was only the second time a Greek team made it to a continental final.

 Back in 1971, fellow Greek side Panathinaikos made it to the final of the European Cup but were defeated by Dutch side Ajax 2-0 in a game played at the historical Wembley.

The game itself was set to be a very competitive battle since both Olympiacos and Fiorentina fielded strong starting line-ups:

Olympiacos Starting XI (Coach: José Luis Mendilibar):

  • Tzolakis; Rodinei, Retsos, David Carmo, Ortega; Chiquinho, Iborra, Hezze; Podence, El Kaabi, Fortounis.

Fiorentina Starting XI (Coach: Vincenzo Italiano):

  • Terracciano; Dodô, Martínez Quarta, Milenković, Biraghi; Mandragora, Bonaventura; González, Arthur, Kouamé; Belotti.

Throughout the match, both teams were very competitive with possession being nearly equal, 46% for Olympiacos and 54% for Fiorentina. 

The game showcased strong attacking movements from both teams, with 23 shots total—6 from Olympiacos and 17 from Fiorentina. 

The match was a thrilling battle, with 27 fouls total—10 for Olympiacos and 17 for Fiorentina.

 Despite Fiorentina’s higher possession stats and greater number of shots, it was Olympiacos who ultimately emerged victorious with a dramatic goal in the 116th minute of extra time by Ayoub El Kaabi. 

The goal not only secured the win but also put El Kaabi’s name into Greek football history as he scored the goal that delivered Greece its first European title at club level.

It is fitting that Olympiacos are the first Greek team to win a European competition, given their stature as the most successful football club in Greece. 

Founded in 1925 and based in Piraeus, a port city near Athens, Olympiacos play their home games at the Karaiskakis Stadium. 

Over their 99-year history, the club has attained numerous domestic titles, including 47 Greek Super League championships, 28 Greek Cups, and 4 Greek Super Cups. 

Despite their domestic dominance, European success had been missing from their repertoire until now. 

Although they had never won anything on a European level until today, the Greek team regularly competes in European competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, and more recently, the UEFA Europa Conference League, which they now have added to their accolades.

The UEFA Europa Conference League is the third tier of European club competitions, below the UEFA Europa League, which is the second tier, and the UEFA Champions League, which is the pinnacle of European club football. 

Introduced by UEFA in the 2021-2022 season, the competition aims to give more clubs across Europe the opportunity to participate in continental football, especially those from smaller leagues that might struggle to qualify for the more prestigious tournaments.

 The Europa Conference League follows a similar format to other UEFA competitions, with qualifying rounds, a group stage, and knockout rounds leading to the final. 

The winner of the competition earns a place in the following season’s UEFA Europa League group stage, provided they have not already qualified through their domestic league performance.

Olympiacos’ historic win in the Europa Conference League is a significant milestone for Greek football. 

This victory demonstrates that Greek clubs do, in fact, have the capacity to compete and succeed at the highest levels of European football. 

This triumph is not just a win for Olympiacos but a special moment for Greece as a whole. It heralds a new era of possibility for Greek football on the European stage, showing the potential for future success and setting a new benchmark for Greek clubs in continental competitions.

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