Europe's Fiercest Derbies Episode 2: Panathinaikos Vs Olympiacos Piraeus
Sportco is back with another 'Episode' in the series of Europe's fiercest derbies. We hope you enjoyed the first episode which gave a glimpse of the Turkish roots of the 'Intercontinental Derby' between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
This week we head to Greece to understand what makes Panathinaikos vs Olympiacos, the 'Mother of all Battles'
Episode 2: Mother of all battles: Panathinaikos Vs Olympiacos Piraeus
The BBC once termed this Greek domestic football fixture as the Maddest derby of Europe. On February 2015 Evangelos Marinakis, the Olympiacos President, branded the match as "an atrocity for Greek football" after a deadly violent clash ended in Panathinaikos' favour.
The fixture involving two of Greece's most popular clubs is also widely known as the derby of the eternal enemies. The eternity of the rivalry dates back to ancient Greece when the city of Athens was connected to the port of Piraeus through a strategic connection of long walls and gave the former a logistical and military advantage.
Derby of the eternal enemies
Two-thirds of the Greek population either support Panathinaikos or Olympiacos which cover almost all sections of the Hellenic society yet the foundations of the two clubs are based on deep socio-economic differences that existed in the early and middle parts of the last century.
There is an inherent notion amongst the general Greek public that Panathinaikos represents Athens' upper class while Olympiacos' support base comes from the port city's working class and the socially and economically deprived.
As Greece slowly emerged from the destruction and political uncertainties post World War II such differences slowly faded and both the clubs now boast of a support base from all corners of the Greek society.
Yet ingrained hatred, which sometimes looks manufactured from years gone by, amongst the two clubs' fanatical support always gives this fixture an added colour and tension.
Historically Piraeus has always been considered very much part of Athens or greater Athens yet Olympiacos fans would like to fanatically attach themselves to the port city with a unique identity different to that of proper Athens.
The Panathinaikos fans believe that the creation of their club was to prove that this great game is not only for the working class but for the upper class as well and the foundation of the Greens was to counter the very notion that football is for the working class society only. The bad blood exists very much based on this basic thinking.
The feeling of a struggling past amongst the people of Piraeus gives this fixture an added edge. The strategic location of the port protected Athens from various invasions as history suggests and the general feeling is that the working class of Piraeus sacrificed much for the protection of the upper-class Athens.
As the Greek society and football embraced economic and political change over the years the inherent differences have virtually vanished yet respective supporters keep the rivalry alive by hating each other for reasons beyond anyone's imagination.
The mere hatred for each other gives both these two clubs their unique identities. Simply put, without each other both Olympiacos and Panathinaikos would not be the clubs as they are today.
This rivalry has encompassed every aspect of Greek sport as both clubs have teams in basketball, handball and volleyball. But the rivalry on the football pitch is the biggest in Greek sport.
Athens and the whole of Greece virtually come to a standstill on matchdays and the city administration has their task cut out to keep emotions in control.
Organized violent fanbase
Both Panathinaikos and Olympiacos have huge support base from across Greece and outside. Violence is a regular occurrence in matches involving these two great sides.
Despite being founded later(1925) than Panathinaikos(1908), the red and whites are the country's most successful side.
Riots and unfortunately deaths have occurred during and after matches and police investigation has revealed that organized crime syndicates are sometimes attached with these two sets of hooligans that create all the ruckus both on and off the field.
Panathinaikos Vs Olympiacos: Head to Head
Olympiacos is undoubtedly the biggest club in terms of silverware won. The Red and Whites have won the Greek Super League 45 times compared to Panathinaikos' 20.
As far as head to head is concerned Olympiacos have won 84 times against their arch-rivals, Panathinaikos have tasted victory in 50 games while 70 matches have been drawn. The last meeting between the sides had ended 1-0 in favour of the league leaders Olympiacos in November 2020.
Olympiacos: The club plays its matches at the 32,500 seater Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. The stadium is the largest football-specific arena in the whole of Greece.
The fans pack the stadium in all domestic and European matches and flares and pyrotechnics in the condensed modern stadium provide an intimidating environment for every opposing team.
Panathinaikos: The 16000 capacity Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium is where the Greens play their home matches. The club also plays their matches at the iconic Athens Olympic Stadium.
Olympiacos Nickname: The Red and Whites/Dafnostefanomenos
Panathinaikos Nickname: The Greens
Featured Image Credits - moondogs.com.cy