Two undefeated teams square off in Palau Blaugrana on Wednesday evening, when last season’s ACB league champion and EuroLeague runner up Barcelona will host Greek giants Olympiacos.
The visitors from Piraeus had an eventful summer. Vassilis Spanoulis, one of EuroLeague’s all-time greats and maybe the most important player in the rich history of Olympiacos announced his retirement. Also, the red and whites rejoined the Greek first division after a two-year absence, so they have to concentrate on multiple competitions and will have more games/trips. So far, the season looks great for Olympiacos, as they comfortably won both their domestic league games by 25+ points. They also started their EuroLeague season with a 25 point win against Baskonia and in Round 2 they beat Real Madrid, so a win tonight would mean that they already beat every Spanish team in this EuroLeague season.
Also, for Kostas Papanikolau, Sasha Vezenkov and coach Georgios Bartzokas the game in the Palau Blaugrana means extra motivation, as they formerly played/coached Barca and for sure every time they play against the Catalans they want to prove that not keeping them was a mistake.
Tonight’s hosts also went through changes this summer. Just like Olympiacos with Spanoulis, Barca also saw their legend Pau Gasol announce his retirement. The superstar joined the Blaugrana in February last season and his leadership and experience helped Barca win the ACB league and reach the EuroLeague final. Leo Westermann, Adam Hanga, Leandro Bolmaro, Artem Pustovyi, Victor Claver also left the team. To replace them Jasikevicius brought in his fellow Lithuanian Rokas Jokubaitis, EuroLeague champion Sertac Sanli, Nicolas Laprovittola and Nigel Hayes-Davis.
Besides the catastrophic last quarter in the Supercup final against Real Madrid, Barcelona has a perfect start of the season: 6-0 in the ACB and 2-0 in the EuroLeague. They are certainly one of the strongest teams in Europe this year too and anything less than winning the trophy in both ACB and EuroLeague will be considered a failure.
While Olympiacos looks very good so far and a playoff spot looks almost certain for the Greeks, Barcelona is the clear favourite to win tonight.