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Dec 9, 2021 at 5.45pm UK
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Preview: Royal Antwerp vs. Olympiacos - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Royal Antwerp vs. Olympiacos - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Royal Antwerp and Olympiacos, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

The final gameweek of the Europa League group stages takes place on Thursday, when Greek outfit Olympiacos travel to Belgium, where they will face Royal Antwerp at the Bosuil Stadion.

Olympiacos are guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds as they are four points clear of third-placed Fenerbahce, but they will be aiming to leapfrog Frankfurt into top spot, while Antwerp have only two points from their five matches in this competition so far.

Match preview

Antwerp are going strong in the Belgian Pro League, currently sitting second and only four points behind league leaders Union St Gilloise, but they have been unable to replicate their domestic form in Europe this season.

Brian Priske's side did earn a 2-2 draw in their last game in Group D against table toppers Frankfurt, in a match that ended in dramatic style as Mbwana Samatta thought he had won the game for the Belgian outfit, only for Goncalo Paciencia to equalise in the 94th minute.

That late goal from Frankfurt means that Antwerp have conceded at least two goals in four of their five group games which has halted them from progressing in this tournament.

Despite not having anything to play for in the Europa League, Antwerp enter this game on the back of two consecutive wins in the Pro League, and they will want to use this last group game to continue their momentum .

One of the keys to Priske's side's success in recent games has been keeping clean sheets in the league, having stopped the opposition from scoring in each of their last four victories.

Olympiacos have won five of their last six matches in all competitions, and they remain unbeaten in the Greek Super League this season, currently sitting six points clear at the top.

Pedro Martins's side already know that they have the knockout rounds to look forward to in the new year, but they will want to finish top of Group D with a win on Thursday.

If Frankfurt lose against Fenerbahce and Olympiacos collect all three points in Belgium then the Greek team will finish first, and the visitors should be confident about a win this week having beaten Antwerp on the opening gameweek.

The first meeting between these two sides in this year's competition came in September, when Oleg Reabciuk snatched a late winner for Olympiacos, who won 2-1 in Piraeus.

Martins's team come into Thursday's encounter after a 3-1 win in the league on the weekend, having turned the game around against OFI Crete courtesy of a brace from Pape Abou Cisse and Rony Lopes's first league goal of the campaign.

Royal Antwerp Europa League form:
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D

Royal Antwerp form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W

Olympiacos Europa League form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Olympiacos form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Royal Antwerp have injury doubts ahead of Thursday's clash, with Bruny Nsimba and Sander Coopman yet to make an appearance this season, while Aurelio Buta has been absent since the middle of October with a muscle injury.

Midfielder Radja Nainggolan was forced off after just seven minutes against Oostende but he made an immediate return to the side a week later when they faced Beerschot, and is expected to start alongside Birger Verstraete and Pierre Dwomoh.

Striker Michael Frey has struck an impressive 15 goals in 17 matches in the Belgian Pro League, but he has not managed to transfer that form into the Europa League, with one game remaining for him to strike in this competition this season.

Konstantinos Fortounis is the only injury absentee for the away side on Thursday, as he continues to recover from a lengthy cruciate ligament injury which has prevented him from making an appearance all season.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos left the field of play in the 25th minute last time out in the Europa League, but he was fit enough for a place on the bench last weekend and could return to the starting lineup on Thursday.

After a good win against Fenerbahce, Martins may opt to name the same starting 11 which will include Giorgos Masouras, Aguibou Camara, Henry Onyekuru and Youssef El Arabi as the main attacking threats.

Royal Antwerp possible starting lineup:
Butez; De Laet, Dessoleil, Almeida; Vines; Verstraete, Nainggolan, Dwomoh; Samatta, Frey, Fischer

Olympiacos possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Reabciuk, Cisse, Sokratis, Lala; Mohamed Mady Camara, M'Vila; Onyekuru, Aguibou Camara, Masouras; Arabi

We say: Royal Antwerp 0-2 Olympiacos

Royal Antwerp effectively have nothing to play for on Thursday as they are already out of the competition, which should give Olympiacos extra confidence of going to Belgium and travelling home with three points.

The visitors are expected to finish the group stages strongly against the bottom-placed side, and back up their 1-0 win against Fenerbahce with another clean sheet.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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