Greek champions Olympiacos get their quest for a spot in the Champions League group stage underway on Wednesday night, as they welcome Azeri outsiders Neftchi Baku to the Karaiskakis Stadium.
Having strolled to their domestic league title last term, the Athens outfit now enter at the second qualifying round, where they meet a club that has never before made it to the promised land.
Olympiakos won a 46th Greek Super League title last season, running away with it by a massive 26 points.
After being knocked out of last year’s Champions League group stages, Olympiakos enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the Europa League.
They won 1-0 at Arsenal, but lost on aggregate after a 3-1 first leg defeat at home.
In preparation for the new season, the Greek champions have played seven friendlies.
Neftchi booked their spot in the second round of qualifying after a 4-2 aggregate win over Dinamo Tbilisi.
Neftchi won a ninth Azerbaijan Premyer Liqa title, winning their final four games of the season without conceding a goal. That included a final day title decider against Qarabag.
Olympiakos vs Neftchi Baku Predictions:
- Olympiakos have won their last 6 home matches (all competitions).
- Olympiakos have seen BTTS in 4 of their last 6 matches (all competitions).
- Olympiakos have seen BTTS in 3 of their last 4 matches in European competitions.
- Olympiacos have just one loss in their last seven games.
- Neftchi Baku have won their last 6 matches (all competitions).
- Neftchi Baku have seen BTTS in their last 2 matches (UEFA Champions League).
- Neftci Baku have one loss in their last 12 games in all competitions.
Olympiakos and Neftchi have never met before.
Olympiakos have successively come through qualifying for the Champions League in the last two seasons.
Olympiacos won the Greek Super League by 26 points last season, an impressive feat and they will be hoping to carry that form into the new season as they welcome Azerbaijani side, Neftci to Greece.
Olympiacos are red hot favourites to win this match and there is no value in backing them outright.
Olympiacos are the stronger of these two teams and we are expecting them to pick up the win but they showed their weaknesses in last season’s European campaign whilst Neftci impressed on their own continental journey.
Our prediction: Olympiacos win @ 10.00