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Wolves v Olympiacos: Five players to watch

Wolves go up against Greek side Olympiacos in a huge Europa League last-16 second-leg clash at Molineux on Thursday.

Youssef El-Arabi (PA)
Youssef El-Arabi (PA)

After Arsenal’s FA Cup win, the only way for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to grab a European place for next season now is to win the Europa League.

If they go all the way, the Champions League awaits. That would be an incredible achievement, but there is still a lot to be done and Olympiacos are no pushovers.

Here, we have a look at five players for Wolves to take extra note of.

Youssef El-Arabi

Olympiacos’ scorer in the first leg, El-Arabi tends to lead the line on his own – and has done so superbly this season.

The 33-year-old Moroccan is not the tallest or the quickest of strikers, but he is a clever player who certainly knows where the net is.

In all competitions, he has scored 27 goals – 20 as they won the Greek Super League, five in the Champions League and two in the Europa League.

El-Arabi has come up with eight assists as well, so will require close attention from Wolves skipper Conor Coady.

Mathieu Valbuena

Perhaps the most well-known player in Pedro Martins’ squad, Valbuena boasts a wealth of experience from spells across the continent.

A winner of 52 caps for France, the 5ft 6in playmaker spent eight years with Marseille and two years with rivals Lyon, and has also had spells with Dynamo Moscow and Fenerbahce in Russia and Turkey respectively.

Mathieu Valbuena (AMA)

Now 35, you would say Valbuena is past his prime, but he still has the ability to turn a game on its head in a heartbeat.

Usually part of the front three and drifting in from the flanks, he has come up with a mightily-impressive 23 assists in 40 appearances this term.

Valbuena has also scored nine goals, having joined Olympiacos last summer on a one-year deal, which has since been extended for another season. If he is given space to work in, he can be deadly.

Ousseynou Ba

A spate of strong displays before the pandemic saw the 24-year-old Senegalese centre-half retain his place after the break in the season.

With Ruben Semedo suspended following his straight red in the first leg, Ba is likely to be partnered at the back by compatriot Pape Abou Cisse.

The pair were solid as Olympiacos signed off the Super League term with a 3-0 win against AEK Athens, who they are due to face in the Greek Cup final later this month.

Mady Camara

The Greek champions are expected to deploy a three-man midfield at Molineux, with 23-year-old Camara in it.

He has been one of Martins’ most-trusted troops over the past year, and his involvement in El-Arabi’s first-leg goal showed exactly why he has been selected so often.

Camara burst down the right flank to get on the end of a through-ball ahead of Romain Saiss, before slowing things down and feeding the advancing Guilherme, who squared it across goal to leave El-Arabi with a simple tap-in.

Mady Camara (PA)

Wolves’ classy midfield pairing of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, of course, have the quality to put Olympiacos to the sword.

But Camara, who has scored seven goals and made four assists, is not to be underestimated.

Bobby Allain

A boost to Wolves, though, is that Olympiacos’ first-choice goalkeeper Jose Sa is set to miss the game after picking up an injury in training.

It means Allain, who has only made a handful of appearances for the Greek champions since signing last summer, will come in.

Pretty much an unknown quantity, the onus is on Wolves to test the 28-year-old’s mettle.

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