Champions League Picks: Malmo vs. Olympiacos Odds & Prediction

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 1:37 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 1:37 PM GMT

Olympiacos Piraeus heads to Sweden to face Malmö FF on a big high after upsetting Group A favorite Atlético Madrid on Matchday 1. Can the Greeks wreak havoc on the group and earn some more points here?

After upsetting Group A favorites Atlético Madrid (0-1-0, o points, -1 GD) in Athens, 3-2 on Matchday 1, Olympiacos Piraeus FC (1-0-0, 3 points, +1 GD) sent the group into a spin and with a win here in Sweden against Malmö FF at Malmö New Stadium on the first day of October and Matchday 2 (Sky Go/Sky Go Extra (UK), Fox Soccer Plus/Fox Soccer 2Go (US), 20:45CET 2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT) in the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League tournament.

The Greek Superleague champions Olympiacos (+12,500, 125/1 To Reach CL Final, Sky Bet) can improve to 2-0-0 with 6 points in Group A and instill more than a little fear in the hearts of Los Rojiblancos and Juventus (1-0-0, 3 points, +2 GD)—and leave Malmö pretty much hopeless with an 0-2 mark and 0 points heading into Matchday 3 at Estadio Vicente Calderón against an angry Atlético side. And you can rest assured Olympiacos manager Michel will make his team perfectly well of this potential reality and have them drinking the “We can make it to the Knockout Stage, boys” Kool-Aid. You can count on that.

The soccer odds makers have made visitors Olympiacos the rightful favorites here in Malmö, and it makes perfect sense with the Greek side ranked #25 and holding in the latest FIFA Club Rankings and the Swedish side at #145 and dropping. Olympiacos is +105 on the Three-Way line (Bwin), with host Malmö a healthy +275 underdog and the Draw line at +250. On the Draw No Bet line, Olympiacos is -225 (Sky Bet) with Malmö priced at+162, always a smart option for your soccer picks in my book. The number set for the Total Goals in the game—like so many soccer/football matches—is 2½ with the Under juiced at -133 (BetVictor).

 

What Happened with These Two Somewhat Obscure Clubs on Matchday 1?
The Little Engine That Could—Olympiacos—upset Group A favorites Atlético Madrid, 3-2 in Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, as the Greek champs took a surprising 2-0 lead through goals from Arthur Masuaku and Ibrahim Afellay just 31 minutes into the match. Los Rojiblancos striker Mario Mandžukic made it a 2-1 before halftime for Atlético. Olympiacos made it 3-1 and pretty much sealed the deal midway through the second half when Konstantinos Mitroglou scored for the hosts. Atlético made it 3-2 on an Antoine Griezmann strike, but the Greek side’s perceived role as a whipping boy in Group A was quickly put to rest after their impressive performance in the opener and if Olympiacos can again play with that intensity here in Malmö against the defending Swedish Allsvenskan champions, then the +105 price (Olympiacos) will no doubt end up looking really cheap and both Atlético and Juventus—who play each other here on Matchday 2 (Oct. 1)—will both have some unexpected pressure on them heading into Matchday 3 (Oct. 22).

Malmö played a pretty good game itself in Turin against Italian Serie A champions Juventus (+250 at Atlético +105; Draw: +250 in their Matchday 2 game on Oct. 1), but two long-overdue Champions League goals by Carlos Tevez gave the Old Lady a 2-0 win and the top spot in the group over Olympiacos (+1) by the slightest of Goal Differential margins (+2 to +1) heading into this Matchday 2. Malmö (14-7-2, 46 GF-23 GA, first place in Swedish Allsvenskan) couldn’t score against Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on the road, so maybe it can get one or two past Olympiacos’ Roberto (Jiménez Gago), but the 28-year-old Spanish goalkeeper proved how solid he can be beating last year’s runners up in Europe’s most prestigious tournament in the opener.

 

With Confidence Its Side, Olympiacos Can Score, Win on the Road Here
With Olympiacos knowing that it has Juventus at home (Matchday 3) and then again in Turin (Matchday 4), followed by what will be a huge revenge situation for Atlético Madrid at home at Estadio Vicente Calderón (Matchday 5)—back-to-back-to-back—it will be on its best behavior against Malmö knowing it could very well get 0 points combined in those next three nasty matches...something to contemplate as a bettor. Malmö and head coach Åge Hareide are certainly no slouch, and with Emil Forsberg (10 goals Allsvenskan), Guillermo Molins (8 goals), Isaac Thelin (4 goals) and Magnus Eriksson (4 goals), it has number of scoring options on the attack. But the step-up in competition level is the big issue here for the Himmelsblått (the Sky Blue), as all of a sudden this Olympiacos squad is an a position it never imagined, with the words “Knockout Stage” now floating around in their heads. And hope is a wonderful drug and something handicappers always need to take into consideration, especially in a game like this one.

With the talented Mitroglou, midfielders Afellay and Pajtim Kasami and 33-year-old Alejandro Domínguez (57 career goals)—a great choice here, as well as Mitroglou, when the Anytime Goalscorer markets open up—Olympiacos has the attack to create goals against anyone as it proved against one of the toughest defensive midfield and backlines in the world in the opener against Atlético. And with Malmö at home here, and the pressure on them to get a point or three, the Both Teams To Score (Yes -137, Sky Bet; No, +100) prop is worth a look. In short, there are a number of very good angles to bet on in this game if you think the visiting ?hrylos (the Legends) can score a couple goals in Scandinavia.

Read my predictions for today's Basel vs. Liverpool matchup.

Many Approaches Here in Sweden, Including Several in Props Markets
With Olympiacos goalkeeper Roberto now facing a team ranked #125 in the FIFA Club Rankings (Malmö) and not #7, like Atlético, the 25th-ranked visitors—who actually have a player named Pelé on their roster—should be able to stifle the Swedes and find a way to win, especially with the thought of  Juventus-Juventus-Atlético immediately coming after this fixture on the Group A schedule. With the upset win over Los Rojiblancos, Olympiacos doesn’t necessarily need the win here, but with Domínguez and momentum and a significantly-higher FIFA ranking, backing the boys from Greece is the Rx here. And besides taking Olympiacos +105 on the Three-Way line and/or on the Draw No Bet (-225, Sky Bet), it seems there is some value, if you want to gamble a smaller amount on Olympiacos To Score Both Halves +225 (William Hill) and/or Olympiacos Halftime/Full-Time +500 (William Hill).

A team like this gutsy Olympiacos one which believes in itself and which scored twice early against Atlético Madrid should be able to get a goal here in both halves, which also hints at a play on the Total Goals Over 2½ (+114, BetVictor). With Malmö basically having to win or get a result here, and so many skilled players on its attack and it being a home game for them, there should be some goals here and the potential for a number of different ways to attack this game from a betting perspective—something that certainly can’t be said about some of these other early group stage matches. Also worth noting:  Malmö was outshot 22-4 by Juventus (8-1 on target) in the opener (41% possession), while Olympiacos had 8 shots against Atlético, 4 on target (44% possession), and obviously 3 that went in for goals in an entertaining game that unexpectedly set the tone for the entire group.

PREDICTION: Malmö FF 1 Olympiacos FC 3

FREE PICKS: Olympiacos +105 (Bwin), Over 2½ +114 (Bwin)

FREE PROPS PICK: Olympiacos To Score Both Halves +225 (William Hill), Olympiacos Halftime/Full-Time +500 (William Hill), Alejandro Domínguez Anytime Goalscorer (Olympiacos)

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