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Odds favour Olympiacos against Bremen

Olympiacos CFP need only a point to secure progress to the last 16 for the first time in nine years but they can expect tough resistance from Werder Bremen.

Odds favour Olympiacos against Bremen
Odds favour Olympiacos against Bremen ©Getty Images

Olympiacos CFP stand on the threshold of the UEFA Champions League last 16, requiring just a point from their Matchday 6 meeting with Werder Bremen – their 100th match in the competition – to secure qualification. However, they can expect fierce resistance from the visitors who can qualify themselves with victory at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.

• Olympiacos go into the game in second place in Group C, level on eight points with leaders Real Madrid CF, while Bremen lie two points behind in third place.

• For the Greek champions, progress to the first knockout round would be a major cause for celebration. Not since 1998/99, when they were quarter-finalists, have they got beyond the initial group stage and the irony of their present situation is that their away form – so often their achilles heel in Europe – has been the key to their success.

• Olympiacos had not recorded a single away win in 31 attempts in the UEFA Champions League prior to this season yet their 2-1 victory at S.S. Lazio on Matchday 5 was their second in three matches on the road.

• Olympiacos came from behind to win 2-1 in Rome, goals from Luciano Galletti (35 minutes) and Darko Kovačević (64) overturning Goran Pandev's opener.

• That victory followed a hoodoo-ending 3-1 success in Germany on Matchday 2, when Panagiotis Lemonis's team also overcame a deficit to win. After Hugo Almeida had given Bremen a 32nd-minute lead, strikes from Ieroklis Stoltidis (73), Christos Patsatzoglou (82) and Kovačević (87) turned the game on its head.

• By contrast, Olympiacos have not won at home yet, drawing with both Lazio (1-1) and Madrid (0-0). Indeed, their last home victory in the UEFA Champions League was on 6 December 2005 when they beat Madrid 2-1. It was also against the Spanish champions that they registered their solitary defeat in this year's competition, 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabéu.

• Bremen revived their hopes by beating Madrid 3-2 on Matchday 5. Markus Rosenberg gave the Bundesliga side a fourth-minute lead and although Robinho levelled for the visitors (14), further goals from Boubacar Sanogo (40) and Aaron Hunt (56) ensured that Ruud van Nistelrooy's 71st-minute effort had no effect on the final outcome.

• Prior to that, coach Thomas Schaaf's team had recorded away defeats against Madrid (1-2) and Lazio (1-2) in addition to losing to Olympiacos at the Weserstadion. The only shaft of light had come from a 2-1 home success over Lazio on Matchday 3, where Sanogo and Hugo Almeida found the net.

• This is Bremen's fourth consecutive season in the UEFA Champions League and they are aiming to reach the last 16 for the third time. They advanced previously in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 campaigns before losing in the first knockout round on both occasions.

• Olympiacos's past encounters with German opposition on Greek soil have produced one win and two defeats. They lost home ties in the European Champion Clubs' Cup to FC Bayern München (2-4) in 1980 and Hamburger SV (0-4) in 1982 – the second match of which coach Lemonis featured in the home midfield.

• Lemonis, then in his first spell as coach, was in charge when they beat Bayer 04 Leverkusen 6-2 in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2002/03. Predrag Djordjević scored a hat-trick in that match and two other current squad members, Patsatzoglou and Paraskevas Antzas, also played.

• Bremen lost 2-1 at Panathinaikos FC in the 2005/06 group stage on their only previous visit to Greece. A more positive omen may be found in the fact they subsequently beat Panathinaikos 5-1 in their final group fixture to reach the knockout stage – then, as now, despite having suffered three reverses.

• Bremen are not the only team to have advanced from the group stage despite three defeats. Celtic (2007/08 and 2006/07), FC Lokomotiv Moskva, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Newcastle United FC (2002/03), Arsenal FC (2001/02), Olympique Lyonnais (2000/01), Manchester United FC and Rosenborg BK (1996/97), and Legia Warszawa (1995/96) all achieved the feat.

• In 2005/06, Bremen qualified despite losing their first two games. The only other clubs to have come back in this way are FC Internazionale Milano (2006/07), Leverkusen and Newcastle (2002/03).

• Petri Pasanen, Bremen's Finnish defender played alongside Olympiacos forward Lomana LuaLua at Portsmouth FC in the second half of the 2003/04 season, after the pair had both arrived at the Premier League club on loan.

• Two of Serbian club FK Proleter's favourite sons will be on opposing sides in Piraeus. Olympiacos striker Kovačević spent two years with the Zrenjanin side – now FK Banat Zrenjanin – between 1992 and 1994 before joining FK Crvena Zvezda. Bremen defender Duško Tošić, meanwhile, was plucked from the youth ranks at the same club by OFK Beograd in 2002.