Atalanta and Olympiacos meet for the first time as the Italian club host the Greek champions in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs.
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Atalanta and Olympiacos meet for the first time in European competition as the Italian club host the Greek champions in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs.
• Atalanta were unable to make it three successful UEFA Champions League group stage campaigns in a row as they lost their win-or-bust final Group F fixture 2-3 at home to Villarreal, thereby remaining in third place, four points behind their Spanish conquerors and five adrift of section winners Manchester United. Olympiacos, meanwhile, finished runners-up in UEFA Europa League Group D behind Eintracht Frankfurt with three wins and three defeats.
• Atalanta's sole previous official engagement with Greek opposition was a 1987/88 European Cup Winners' Cup second round tie against OFI Crete, in which they overturned a 0-1 first-leg deficit with a 2-0 win in Bergamo en route to reaching the semi-finals.
• This is Olympiacos's 27th UEFA match against Italian opponents, their record standing at W7 D5 L14. Away from home the figures are W3 D1 L9 with defeats in each of the last three games, most recently 1-3 at AC Milan in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League group stage – although the Greek side won the Matchday 6 return in Piraeus by the same score and progressed to the round of 32 at the Italian club's expense.
• Olympiacos's heaviest European defeat came in Italy – a 7-0 defeat by Juventus in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League group stage. This is the Greek side's first knockout tie against Italian opponents this century; their record in the previous seven is W1 L6.
• Atalanta finished third in last season's Serie A to qualify for a third successive appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage. They were also runners-up to Juventus in the Coppa Italia, losing 2-1 in the final in Reggio Emilia.
• The Bergamo club had never featured in the UEFA Champions League before 2019/20, when they reached the quarter-finals on debut before falling to Paris Saint-Germain. They again reached the knockout phase in 2020/21, losing to Real Madrid in the last 16, but were unable to complete the hat-trick this term, managing just one win in their six group games – 1-0 at home to bottom-placed Young Boys – and finishing with six points.
• This is Atalanta's second appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, the previous one, in 2017/18, having ended in the round of 32 with elimination by Borussia Dortmund (2-3 a, 1-1 h) after they had topped their group undefeated.
• Gian Piero Gasperini's side have won only one of their last seven European fixtures in Bergamo (D3 L3). Atalanta have never lost at home, however, in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup (W6 D6).
• Champions of Greece for a record-extending 46th time in 2020/21, when they finished 26 points ahead of runners-up PAOK, who defeated them 2-1 in the Greek Cup final, Olympiacos also finished third in their UEFA Champions League group before reaching the round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League – a repeat of the previous season.
• Pedro Martins' side failed to return to the UEFA Champions League group stage this term, losing on penalties to Ludogorets in the third qualifying round following an earlier victory against Neftçi. A UEFA Europa League play-off win over Slovan Bratislava ensured group stage football, however, and they clinched a top-two berth with a game to spare after completing the double against Fenerbahçe (3-0 a, 1-0 h) despite losing both games to Eintracht Frankfurt, who eventually finished three points ahead of them at the top of Group D.
• Olympiacos are making a joint-record ninth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. They are bidding to reach the round of 16 for the fifth time – and for the third successive season – though they have never made it beyond that stage of the competition.
• Olympiacos's record on the road in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W5 L7, the Greek side having registered victories at Arsenal in each of the past two campaigns. They were unbeaten in five successive European away matches (W3 D2) until a 3-1 defeat in Frankfurt on Matchday 3; they also lost their next away fixture, 1-0 at Antwerp on Matchday 6.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Jérémie Boga (Sassuolo, loan), Valentin Mihăilă (Parma, loan)
Out: Robin Gosens (Inter, loan), Josip Iličić, Matteo Lovato (Cagliari, loan), Roberto Piccoli (Genoa, loan)
In: Bandiougou Fadiga (Paris Saint-Germain), Kostas Manolas (Napoli), Garry Rodrigues
Out: Michał Karbownik, Svetozar Marković, Ahmed Hassan (Konyaspor), Nikitas Nikolis (Chania), Georgios Stamoulis
Links and trivia
• Sokratis Papastathopoulos, an ever-present for Olympiacos during the group stage, played under Atalanta coach Gasperini at Genoa from 2008 to 2010, making 51 Serie A appearances. He also played in Italy for AC Milan (2010/11).
• Kostas Manolas rejoined Olympiacos in January from Napoli, having left the Piraeus club for Roma in 2014. The Greek international defender made 156 Serie A appearances in his five seasons with the Giallorossi and 60 in two and a half campaigns with Napoli. He faced Atalanta ten times in the league (W3 D4 L3), scoring once – a late equaliser for Roma in a 3-3 draw at the Stadio Olimpico on 27 August 2018.
• Olympiacos midfielder Yann M'Vila played eight Serie A games on loan with Inter in 2014/15.
• Atalanta striker Luis Muriel and Olympiacos goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík played together for Sevilla in the first half of 2018/19.
• Atalanta midfielder Mario Pašalić was a team-mate of Olympiacos's Garry Rodrigues at Elche in 2014/15 and Rony Lopes at Monaco in 2015/16.
• Olympiacos are one of five reigning national champions involved in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs.