Olympiacos v Milan facts
Group F has a final-day showdown to savour as European heavyweights Olympiacos and AC Milan face off in Piraeus knowing that only one of them can progress to the UEFA Europa League’s knockout phase alongside already-qualified table-toppers Real Betis.
• Olympiacos have seven points from their five matches, three adrift of Milan, and will leapfrog their visitors into second place on the head-to-head rule if they beat them 2-0, 3-1 or by a margin of three goals or more.
• Milan, who overcame a scare against group stage debutants Dudelange at San Siro last time out, scoring four times in the last 25 minutes to win 5-2, will be through with a draw, or if they lose by a one-goal margin (or by a two-goal margin other than 2-0 and 3-1). They will finish first if they win and Betis do not do likewise at Dudelange.
• The clubs ended a 59-year wait to lock horns in UEFA competition when they met at San Siro on matchday two, Olympiacos leading for over half the contest through Miguel Ángel Guerrero’s early strike before Milan scored three goals between the 70th and 79th minutes, the first and last from Patrick Cutrone, to turn the game on its head and win 3-1.
• The only other time the clubs were paired together was in a preliminary round contest in the 1959/60 European Champion Clubs’ Cup – Olympiacos’s very first European tie. Milan drew the first leg 2-2 in Greece before winning 3-1 at home.
• Olympiacos have just three victories to their name in 12 UEFA encounters at home to Italian opposition and have lost five of the last eight (W1 D2).
• Milan, though, have never won in Greece (D4 L1), their most recent visit a goalless stalemate against AEK Athens in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Last season Olympiacos surrendered the Greek Superleague title they had won in each of the previous seven campaigns, finishing third behind AEK Athens and PAOK and thus ending up in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, where they handsomely defeated Luzern (4-0 home, 3-1 away) before seeing off Burnley in the play-offs (3-1 home, 1-1 away).
• Although Olympiacos have been involved in the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League on five occasions, this is only the second season in which they have participated in the group stage, their previous effort in 2016/17 having brought two wins, two draws and two defeats and qualification for the next round only on the head-to-head rule.
• Outside the qualifying phase the Piraeus club have won just two of their last 11 UEFA Europa League home fixtures (D5 L4). They have also won only one of their last six home group games in the UEFA Champions League, losing four.
• A sixth-placed finish in Serie A last term earned Milan an automatic UEFA Europa League group stage berth. They also reached the final of the Coppa Italia, where they were beaten 4-0 by champions Juventus.
• The Rossoneri ended a three-season absence from Europe last term by playing 14 matches in the UEFA Europa League, going from the third qualifying round to the last 16, where they lost home and away to Arsenal. It was the club’s debut in this competition, their previous five European participations from 2009/10 to 2013/14 having been in the UEFA Champions League – all of which extended into the knockout phase.
• Milan’s away record in the UEFA Europa League, qualifying phase included, is W5 D2 L2. In the group stage it is W2 D2 L1, the one defeat coming on matchday six last season – 0-2 at Rijeka.
Links and trivia
• Olympiacos players Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis, Giannis Fetfatzidis and Guilherme have all had spells in Serie A. Torosidis was a team-mate of Milan centre-back Alessio Romagnoli at Roma from 2012 to 2014.
• Christodoulopoulos faced Milan last season in the UEFA Europa League group stage, helping AEK Athens to two 0-0 draws.
• Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso spent the first six months of 2014/15 at the helm of OFI Crete in the Greek Superleague.
• Pedro Martins was named Olympiacos coach in April 2018, becoming the club’s fifth Portuguese boss in six years after Leonardo Jardim, Vítor Pereira, Marco Silva and Paulo Bento. He had not previously worked outside his homeland, his last three spells in the dugout before the move to Greece having brought UEFA Europa League qualification for Marítimo, Rio Ave and Vitória Guimarães. A holding midfielder, he was capped once by Portugal during a three-year spell with Sporting CP from 1995–98.
• Gattuso replaced Vincenzo Montella as Milan coach on 27 November 2017, earning promotion from the youth team. A legendary Rossoneri midfielder of grit and endeavour who played for the club from 1999 to 2012, racking up 468 appearances in all competitions, he won both Serie A and the UEFA Champions League twice and also lifted the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006. He led Milan to a sixth-place Serie A finish in 2017/18.