After we landed safely in Athens, a huge taxi driver took us to the hotel. Come to talk, it turns out the man in question has been a fan of Olympiacos for years.
We estimate that Giannis is 40, and he guided us safely through the busy streets of Athens. While we were talking about Olympiacos and Antwerp. Who is the? Antwerp. “I came from a real Olympiacos’ nest. For example, my father was there during the seventh gate tragedy. Fortunately, he left the stadium ten minutes before the time…” In 1981, after Olympiacos’ 6-0 victory over rival AEK killed 21 people After an unprecedented hysteria erupted in the stands. Today, forty years later, the hard core of Olympiacos still bears the name Gate 7.
“I’ve been at Olympiacos myself for fifteen years and I’ll be there tomorrow too. My son will be there too.” Giannis shows us a photo of his son behind a real smoke curtain. “Yes, that’s part of it! That’s also allowed, as long as it’s not taken out. In charged duels against Panathinaikos, it sometimes takes fifteen minutes before we can see what’s going on on the field.”
Giannis doesn’t seem to be exaggerating. It shows us films – apparently allowed in Greece while driving – of a red sea of fireworks. Embarrassed. “Many players who come to play here praise the atmosphere on the field afterwards. Real football atmosphere! Hostile? No, I wouldn’t call it that. Although of course we will try to put pressure on the Antwerp players.”
“Is Nainggolan playing there?!”
Now we are talking about Antwerp. The Great Old has made great strides in recent years, but this news has yet to reach Greece. “I don’t know a single player from…Nainggolan? Does he play in Antwerp? Cool, that’s nothing. Those would be great duels with Kamara…Bjorn Engels? He was here for one season, but he wasn’t. Able to show a lot here.” Giannis said.
“At Olympiacos, it is still important to pay attention to the Arab, who finds his way easily to the goal. Madi Camara is a beast in the midfield. And Mathieu Valbuena? At 37, he still plays with a big heart and great passion, as if he was still eighteen , but after 60 to 65 minutes his tank is usually empty.”
Finally: Olympiacos still the favorites on Thursday? “I suppose Olympiacos is stronger. It is also the first important game of the season. Last weekend against Atromitos there were 8000 to 9000 spectators, there will be a lot on Thursday. It will be a hot evening (shameless laughs) as Olympiacos says they only played one game in League. A lot of new players have come in, so we need some time to get used to it. Hopefully that doesn’t get us in trouble against Antwerp.” And then Giannis dropped us flawlessly in front of the hotel, gave us his ticket (“we’ll meet at the stadium”) and tore up in his rickety Mercedes.
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