The league leaders of Euroleague Basketball, Real Madrid, host the team they beat in last season’s title game, Olympiacos, in a marquee match-up on Thursday night
The situation for Real Madrid and Olympiacos in Euroleague Basketball right now is radically different. With a rivalry built on respect in the heat of competition, expect a fierce battle in this one.
Who: Real Madrid (19-3) vs Olympiacos (12-10)
Where: Wizink Center, Madrid
When: Thursday 25 January 20.45 CET, 19.45 UK/Ireland, 14.45 EST
Last time out
For only the third time all season, Real Madrid walked off the court as losers last week. It really wasn’t close as Los Blancos were blitzed by AS Monaco 98-74 in a heavy defeat in Monte Carlo.
Olympiacos continued the up and down form that has plagued them all season. The Red rebounded by a defeat the week prior at Baskonia to come up big with victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The big battle here looks to be Nikola Milutinov of Olympiacos against Vincent Poirier of Real Madrid. Both have nicely rounded into form and look set to be weapons on each end of the floor.
The big question for me here is how the Reds manage their role players. They have a lot of useful hands that can do jobs. The rotations will need to be honed in nicely to take out the big weapons at the disposal of Los Blancos.
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Need to know
In the first ever season of Euroleague Basketball with a play-in format, Olympiacos know the situation all too well. Right now, they sit in sixth spot. That’s the final slot at an automatic trip to the playoffs. While they still have eyes on winning home court, they’re just two games out of fourth, the Red have to keep an eye on what’s below them.
Real Madrid’s record this season would make you think they tend to come out firing after a defeat. Instead, both of their previous games following losses were close with Los Blancos winning them by a combined 10 points.
What the bookies think
This one is fairly set by the sportsbooks. Bettors who visit this site know that I decry bookmakers for poor value but we’ve got mirrored odds here. Real Madrid are 2/9 favourites while Olympiacos can be found at 9/2. That’s as fair as it gets in this business.
Real Madrid have been installed as -10.5 favourites. That sounds big but it may not be if the flow of the game sees Los Blancos up by 5 or 6 late. In that scenario, it would only take a couple of busted possession by Olympiacos for Real to cover.
What we think
This may be the toughest time of the season to be a league leader in Euroleague Basketball. The Copa del Rey is quickly approaching for Real Madrid and they appear to have the top overall seed all but locked in. Chus Mateo will want to maintain momentum but he’s also going to be wary of running his guys too hard in January and February.
There’s an obvious sense of need here for Olympiacos. That said, it has felt like that quite a lot over the past month. Despite that air of necessity, the Reds are only 6-4 in their last 10 games. That’s not all that reliable.
The biggest indicator for this game may not be what happened in this competition last week but what happened in Greece on Monday. Olympiacos lost their derby to Panathinaikos. That is going to give them an extra dash of motivation going into this one. I don’t think it will be quite enough to get the win straight up but they look great value on the spread.
Pick: Olympiacos +10.5