Mid-table battle looms as stakes climb even higher

Tonight’s EuroLeague match-up sees Serbian side Crvena Zvezda face Greece’s Olympiacos in what is fast becoming a must-win game for the Serbs

Tonight’s EuroLeague match-up sees Serbian side Crvena Zvezda face Greece’s Olympiacos in what is fast becoming a must-win game for the Serbs.

Zvezda have been battling through a surprising run of poor form in recent weeks, with the Serbians only emerging victorious from one of their last five bouts, and the team are now running the risk of falling to the bottom of the standings.

Olympiacos, on the other hand, have picked up three wins from the previous five outings, with the last one being a superb showing against league leaders Barca that saw the Greeks overturn the odds to win 96-88.

However, while recent form may place Olympiacos as the favourites for this evening’s match, one should not be so quick to rule out the Serbian team’s chances.

Zvezda are playing at home, where they regularly deliver stronger performances than when travelling, while Olympiacos’s record away from home does not make for pleasant reading, with the Greeks having lost all but one of their last five showings on the road.

The Serbian side also have a superior head-to-head record, having won all three of their previous games against Olympiacos, including an 88-81 victory in the corresponding fixture last season.

Zvezda forward Ognjen Dobrić certainly believes that his side can steal victory from the Greeks, with the Serb insisting that, while Olympiacos are a strong team, “we have to look only at ourselves. We have to find our rhythm, play a good game and come to victory”.

“It will not be easy”, Dobrić said, “but we want to return to our game, which adorned us in the previous period and brought us victories in matches like this”.

Coach Sasa Obradovic echoed these sentiments, as he inisited that his side have what to takes to win this game, while acknowledging that he is facing a strong enemy.

“They are players of vast experience, and who have, I think, the best playmaking tandem in the entire league, in the form of Slukas and Spanoulis”, he said.

Olympiacos team coach George Bartzokas played down his side’s chances, noting that his team will be playing the second away game in a single week, against a fresh Serbian team at home which lowers their odds.

“They had more time to prepare the game between us, as they did not have a double match like us. We have to be ready for a game of high demands in a difficult home if we want to win”, he said.

However, Olympiacos shooting guard Sakil McKissic was less modest, insisiting that if his side pull together and play well they should have no problem replicating Tuesday’s victory.

“I believe that if we manage to stop them or even slow down their guards, then we will be fine and we will be able to claim the second victory in this double week”, McKissic said.

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