Olympiacos vs. Fiorentina: Europa Conference League Final Showdown

GREEK giants Olympiacos and last year’s runners-up Fiorentina are set to clash in a highly anticipated Europa Conference League final in Athens this Wednesday evening.

With only 10 miles separating Olympiacos’ home ground from the AEK Arena, the Super League side will enjoy the comfort of familiar surroundings.

However, Fiorentina, determined to erase the painful memory of last year’s loss in Prague, will aim to spoil the party.

Olympiacos’ Path to the Final

Olympiacos secured their place in the final with a stunning 6-2 aggregate victory over Premier League high-flyers Aston Villa in the semi-finals.

The Piraeus club’s fans, who won’t have far to travel, are eagerly anticipating their team’s first UEFA final.

The Erythroleykoi edged past Maccabi Tel Aviv and Fenerbahce in previous rounds, with dramatic victories that included extra time and penalties.

A sensational performance from Moroccan striker Ayoub El Kaabi, who scored five times against Villa, has been pivotal.

El Kaabi has notched 15 goals in continental competition this season—more than any African player in a single European campaign—symbolizing Olympiacos’ remarkable journey in 2024.

Under the guidance of experienced coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, appointed in mid-February, Olympiacos have reached the cusp of glory.

Mendilibar, who led Sevilla to a Europa League title last year, has helped Olympiacos become only the second Greek team to reach a UEFA final, 64 years after their European debut.

Playing close to home adds unique pressure for Olympiacos, who recently finished third in the Greek Super League following a 2-2 draw with arch-rivals Panathinaikos.

They are the first club to contest a European final in their home country since Marseille in 2018, but history has not been kind to such teams, with the last four all finishing as runners-up.

Fiorentina’s Journey to Athens

Fiorentina, on the other hand, have fought their way through qualifying for the second consecutive season to earn a shot at redemption.

Last year’s heart-breaking 90th-minute loss to West Ham United is still fresh, but the Viola are determined to bring silverware back to Florence and secure a spot in next season’s Europa League.

The Serie A side are unbeaten in 13 European matches, the longest streak in their history, having progressed through the playoff round before topping Group F last autumn.

The knockout phase saw Fiorentina push their luck, with a stoppage-time winner against Maccabi Haifa in the last 16 and an extra-time victory over Viktoria Plzen.

Lucas Beltran’s late penalty against Club Brugge sealed their place in the final.

Vincenzo Italiano, facing his penultimate game in charge before a crucial Serie A match against Europa League winners Atalanta BC, has a point to prove.

After losing last season’s Coppa Italia and Conference League finals, and exiting dramatically in the cup semi-finals this season, Italiano will be keen to silence his critics.

Fiorentina finished eighth in Serie A, adding to the pressure.

Fiorentina’s European final history isn’t much brighter, with four defeats in five attempts, leaving the 1961 European Cup Winners’ Cup as their only continental success.

Both teams will be under immense pressure to claim victory in Athens.

Final Thoughts

As Olympiacos and Fiorentina gear up for this thrilling encounter, the stage is set for a memorable final in Athens. With Olympiacos having the home advantage and Fiorentina seeking redemption, fans can expect a high-octane battle for European glory on Wednesday evening. Don’t miss it!

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