Will Olympiacos survive in Belgrade?

Crvena Zvezda and Olympiacos Piraeus will meet in the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in Belgrade on Thursday evening in Round 14 of the EuroLeague, a game equally very important for both teams.

While the supporters of the two teams consider themselves brothers, we can expect a fight on the court. The Serbian and ABA League champions Zvezda currently sit in 12th place in the standings and are just 2 wins away from 7th place Unics Kazan. However, they are also 2 losses away from the bottom of the standings, so just like the motto of the EuroLeague says, this season every game matters.

Finishing in a playoff spot for Zvezda would be a big surprise. They have one of the lowest budgets in the league, and while there are always talented Serbian players to be found, it’s hard to compete against the richest teams in Europe. What Dejan Radonjic’s team compensates with is an amazing defense and some experienced players who all know their role in the team. Nikola Kalinic is for sure the biggest name on their roster, as he is one of the best forwards in Europe and also a great team player. Stefan Markovic, Ognjen Kuzmic, Branko Lazic, Ognjen Dobric or Luka Mitrovic all know the team well and have EuroLeague experience, so the chemistry in the team is good. The few foreigners that Zvezda brought in also have vast EuroLeague experience: Nate Wolters, Austin Hollins, Aaron White and Maik Zirbes all have at least 3 EuroLeague seasons in their resume.

Olympiacos is also in an interesting spot in the standings. They are currently 3rd and as Barcelona and Real Madrid play each other this round, the team coached by Georgios Bartzokas could get just one win behind the 2nd spot. In the same time, it’s also true that a bad stretch of 2 or 3 defeats would move them outside a playoff spot. The Greek team also relies on experienced players and for sure they play better so far than most people expected before the season.

The odds given by betting sites are in favour of Olympiacos (between 1.55-1.60), but it’s always an incredibly tough job to win in Belgrade.

Image: Euroleague

Imre Halasz