Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughOlympiakos title sealed by rioting rivals - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Olympiakos title sealed by rioting rivals - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Olympiakos title sealed by rioting rivals

Olympiakos may have grabbed a 0-1 win in Panetolikos on Sunday night to extend their lead at the summit of the Greek Super league to ten points, but the destination of the title was given the trivial fate of being decided in the courtroom as bitter rivals Panthinaikos failed with a bid to overturn a punishment for crowd violence in the Athens derby in March. The match was abandoned after 81 minutes following a 45 minute delay as Panathinaikos fans pelted police with Molotov cocktails and flares in the Olympic Stadium and the Greek authorities got tough. In fact the toughest ever sanction in Greek Super league history as Panathinaikos were docked three points and their rivals awarded the three point win, meaning an unassailable ten point lead in favour of Olympiakos with three matches remaining.

Panathinaikos were also given a fine of £212 euros and have been ordered to play three home matches behind closed doors. Punishment will also extend to next season with the Greens beginning their next Super League campaign with a deficit of two points. The Hellenic Football Federation (HFF) were not to be light on this subject following new ruling designed to clamp down on football violence, in a climate where citizens are disillusioned by serious economic unrest. The cost to the fans will be expensive and hurtful enough, being forced to watch their bitter rivals collect a seventh league title in eight years, this time at a canter of a ten point margin. Olympiakos fans have gone as far as to organise a fiesta for their final home game with Corfu.

Nobody can deny Olympiakos were worthy winners of their second successive title; they are unbeaten in their Karaiskakis Stadium home and have only lost two games away from home. Only thirteen points have been dropped on a run of twenty-seven games that has only seen 16 goals conceded. 64 goals have been hit, 19 more than second placed Panathinaikos and only a Europa League defeat at home to Metalist Kharkiv that saw them eliminated on away goals, has disrupted a twelve match winning streak. They were 1-0 up in the Olympic Stadium with nine minutes remaining so would not have needed the assistance of some lunatic fans. It has been a campaign of unbridled dominance that seems slightly disvalued having not been sealed by, say a 7-2 battering of Asteras Tripolis, but by a courtroom judge.

Ernesto Valverde, the Spanish manager of Olympiakos, won’t be arguing with a third Greek Super League in succession as boss of the club however, a run suspended only by a brief spell in charge of Villareal in 2009. His sabbatical from the Greek capital saw a bizarre year in which Olympiakos went through five managers, including ex-Newcastle midfielder Temuri Ketsbaia and Brazilian legend Zico. That year the Green side of Athens won the title, so Valverde, an ex-Cup Winner’s Cup winner with Barcelona, returned in the autumn of 2010 to deliver two more titles on the spin. Fittingly referred to in Greek as the Kokkini, The Reds in familiar parlance, Olympiakos have seen Manchester United style dominance under Valverde and the forgotten names of Jose Segura, Takis Lemonis and Trond Sollied before him that initiated a fantastic run of success. Panathinaikos face a massive fight to wrestle the spell of dominance from their neighbours, even before their fans start taking the battleground off the pitch and into the stands.

Valverde has forged a decent side in Athens, one that triumphed over Arsenal (3-1), Marseille (0-1) and Borussia Dortmund (3-1) as they scraped nine points to finish third in their difficult Champions’ League group. Three defeats on the other hand meant they were edged out of qualification by Arsenal and Marseille by a single point, only conceding 6 goals, including a very narrow 2-1 defeat on a trip to the Emirates. Their back-line is founded on solid ground, the ex-Aston Villa captain Olof Mellberg stands alongside experienced Frenchman Francois Modesto. Ex-Manchester United Roy Caroll has also been added to the squad following an impressive spell with OFI Crete, becoming an instant hero with a penalty save in a Europa League tie with Rubin Kazan.

On top of an impregnable back-line that has only shipped 24 goals from 37 games in all competitions, Valverde added the calm, neat passing of Jean Makoun after his short spell with Aston Villa whilst £2.6 million was spent on bringing defensive midfielder Ljunomir Fejsa from Partizan Belgrade with £2.2 million on St Etienne’s Kevin Mirillas, who has become top scorer with 19 goals. Marko Pantelic and Rafik Djebbour provide them with fire-power already in place, scoring ten goals each. Ariel Ibagaza, Pablo Orbaiz and David Fuster provide a stiff-backbone with some continental creativity and it is a Greek cocktail of quality that coasted to the Super League title before the technicalities were sorted in the courtroom.

The fiesta against second to bottom Kerkyra will be the most apt way to conclude a season that has bordered on a procession in the mythological city of Athens. Their green neighbours provided something resembling a competition until their fight died out with score of flying flares in the Olympic Stadium, but the rulings were irrelevant. Olympiakos deserved their second successive Super League and no appeal could deny them that.

Written by Adam Gray; @AdamGray1250