My favorite football team in the entire world is Olympiakos. I’ve been following them since I was a kid. When I saw online that Olympiakos was playing PAOK during my trip to Athens, my eyes lit up and the first thing I did was go directly to the Olympiakos website to buy a ticket. It would be my first ever Olympiakos game in person. And even better, a derby between the top two teams in the standings.
I got off the metro at Faliro station in Piraeus, just outside Karaiskaki Stadium, and went to my gate. I decided to purchase the best seat I could get for my first experience. I was almost at midfield, but once in the stadium I realized that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. I took a walk around to a few other gates and was very impressed by the sightlines at each of them. Just a stunning venue to experience a game.
The Gate 7 fanatics got off to an early start, lighting flares and chanting well before the game began. A few idiots threw their flares onto the field disgracefully. I was sitting next to a very nice man who is a season ticket holder, and he apologized for their behavior. We had some good conversations throughout the game, and when I told him my family is from Chios, he was very happy that a Greek-American was was so into the team and game.
The game got off to a slow start. Olympiakos looked sloppy and weren’t playing together. Every time they would make a crucial interception, they would give the ball right back to PAOK. PAOK weren’t impressing anyone, either. Kostas Mitroglou gave the home team a sigh of relief just 9 minutes before the half with a beautiful goal.
The second half was much better. Olympiakos dominated from the whistle. In the 60th minute, Costa Rican international Joel Campbell cut through the defense and took advantage of PAOK’s failure to clear away his blocked shot. He fed Argentinian striker Javier Saviola to make it 2-0.
In the 74th minute, Spaniard David Fuster made it 3-0 with a header off a corner kick, and Joel Campbell once again took advantage of a defensive lapse to close out the scoring at 4-0 in the 80th minute. The crowd showed their approval and mocked the visitors from Thessaloniki with a not-so-friendly chant (watch the video below). Shortly after, Olympiakos had a chance to put a 5th past PAOK, but hit the crossbar.
After the game, I stuck around to enjoy the moment for a bit and grabbed a delicious loukaniko sandwich from one of the many vendors outside the stadium before jumping on the metro to head back to Athens. I can’t wait to go to another game!