Olympiacos safely negotiated two qualifying rounds and kick off Group F against Betis, back after four years away.
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Having come safely through two qualifying ties, Olympiacos start their UEFA Europa League group stage campaign in Piraeus against Real Betis, the Andalusians returning to continental competition after a four-season absence thanks to a sixth-placed finish in the 2017/18 Spanish Liga.
• Betis have never faced Greek opposition, but Olympiacos have a wealth of experience against Spanish clubs, their record in 15 home fixtures a positive W6 D7 L2 compared to that in Spain, where they have yet to win.
• The only UEFA Europa League tie Olympiacos have played against a Spanish club, in the 2012/13 round of 32 against Levante, resulted in a 0-4 aggregate defeat (0-3 away, 0-1 home).
• 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 one of their last nine UEFA Europa League home fixtures (D4 L4). They have also won only one of their last six home group games in the UEFA Champions League, losing four.
• Betis finished one place and two points above Sevilla in last season's Liga to clinch an automatic UEFA Europa League group stage spot at their city rivals' expense.
• Sevilla were Betis's last opponents in Europe, and it was a painful experience as they lost to the eventual winners on penalties in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 16. That was the club's first European adventure in eight years, their six group games featuring just five goals in total but the three they scored proving sufficient to take them into the round of 32, where they overcame Rubin Kazan 3-1 on aggregate before the dramatic all-Seville clash in which both clubs won 2-0 at their opponents' stadium.
• Betis have lost only one of their last seven European away games, winning four, and have not conceded more than once in any match during that sequence.
Links and trivia
• Olympiacos winger Matías Nahuel spent 18 months on loan at Betis from boyhood club Villarreal from 2016 to 2017, making 17 appearances, most of them from the bench.
• Miguel Guerrero is another Spaniard in the Olympiacos squad. During his career in Spain the striker faced Betis six times with Sporting Gijón, scoring once, and four times with Leganés.
• Daniel Podence of Olympiacos played alongside Betis's William Carvalho for several seasons at Sporting CP. Both left the club in 2018.
• 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.
• A former midfielder capped three times by Spain, Santander-born Quique Setién spent most of his playing career with home-town club Real Racing Club, his two lengthy spells there interrupted by shorter stints at Atlético Madrid and Logroñés. His coaching career also began at Racing and eventually prospered in the Canary Islands with Las Palmas. He returned to the Spanish mainland to take charge of Betis in May 2017, leading the Seville club to sixth spot in the Liga at the end of his first season.