‘Sokratis told us Arsenal secrets’ – Olympiacos star Bruma has no fear ahead of Europa League rematch
Portuguese international winger speaks exclusively to Goal ahead of Thursday’s game in the round of 16 of the continental competition
When Arsenal take on Olympiacos on Thursday night, it won’t be much of a surprise for the Greek champions.
Little has changed at Karaiskakis Stadium since then.
Pedro Martins, the man who orchestrated the victory, remains in the driver’s seat and several of the players who started that crucial second leg 12 months ago will be involved again in Athens later this week.
But there is one thing that will be different this time around.
When the two teams met last year, Sokratis was a key member of the Gunners squad and featured in both matches, starting the game in Greece and coming off the bench in the second leg.
And his new teammates wasted no time tapping into his insider knowledge ahead of Thursday night’s rematch.
“He told us a few secrets, but I won’t tell you,” admitted the Olympiacos winger Bruma in an exclusive interview with Goal this week. “It’s between us and Sokratis.
“Of course he knows the Arsenal dressing room better than anyone.
“He’s a player with a lot of experience, he played for Milan, Dortmund and Arsenal who are all big, big clubs.
“So Sokratis is a very good voice, he helped a lot in the locker room and he helped the team a lot with his experience. We are very happy to have him here and I am sure he will be of great help on Thursday.
Bruma was not involved in last year’s meetings between the two teams, having only arrived in Greece towards the end of the summer transfer window, when he agreed to spend the rest of the campaign on loan from PSV. .
But the Portugal international has sat down and watched some of last season’s clashes after the draw, and is well aware that Arsenal will approach this season’s games with a sense of revenge that will enliven them.
It’s something he and his teammates have been waiting for, but the 26-year-old is adamant there is no fear factor within the squad as to what’s to come.
“Not at all,” he said. “Olympiacos has a lot of very experienced international players.
“It’s natural for Arsenal to talk about revenge, but every game has its story and everyone feels good about this one on our squad.
“We were on our way home from Holland after playing at PSV [in the round of 32] when the draw was done and it was a surprise to all of us.
“We were all happy because it will be a very good game. We want it, and while it’s not an easy tie, we just think about winning and that’s all that matters.
Bruma added: “I was not there [last year] sure, but it was a great game, especially for Olympiacos.
“My teammates and I have talked about it a bit and we all know it won’t be an easy tie anymore.
“It wasn’t the last time and Arsenal obviously have such a good team with good quality. So we know it won’t be like last year, but anything is possible.
Having started the season with PSV, Bruma moved to Athens in September and has settled into his new surroundings well.
The winger has scored four goals in 16 appearances so far for Olympiacos, and is firmly aiming to secure a place in Fernando Santos’ Portuguese squad for this summer’s European Championship.
He could clash with international teammate Cedric Soares over the next 10 days, and knows what two good performances in such a prestigious game could do for his chances of ensuring he is involved when the reigning Continental champions seek. to defend. the trophy they won in France five years ago.
“I know the national team coach follows my games normally,” said Bruma. “He speaks regularly with me as well as with other colleagues of mine.
“Of course, I know that a great European tie, against a team like Arsenal, is a game that attracts all the attention, and it’s an opportunity to prove my worth against a great team and great players.
“To be part of the Portugal team this summer would be a dream come true. I have been representing my country since I was a teenager and participating in a major tournament has always been both a dream and a goal that I want to achieve.
“The only way to do it is to work hard every day. “
In addition to knowing each other from the national team, Bruma and Cédric were also teammates at Sporting CP when the winger rose through the ranks and made his breakthrough in the 2013-14 season.
The pair have continued to form a close bond, and the Olympiacos star says he has a lot to thank the Arsenal defender.
“Cédric is a good friend and a great player,” he said. ” I know him since a long time. At Sporting, we played on the same side, he was the right-back and I was the right forward.
“He taught me a lot when I was a young player and I have a lot to thank him for. I love him very much, care for him very much and wish him all the best.
“If we meet on the pitch on Thursday it will be a big duel.”
Olympiacos head to Thursday night’s first leg 14 points clear at the top of the Greek Super League. They have lost just one of their 25 league games so far this season and clinched a thrilling victory over PSV in the previous Europa League round to stage a second straight meeting with Arsenal in the round of 16 .
Their form since the start of the campaign has been at odds with the Gunners, who continue to struggle domestically and find themselves struggling to qualify for European football next season.
Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Burnley leaves them sitting 10th in the Premier League and facing the prospect of their worst domestic ranking in 25 years.
“Their position in the league surprises me,” admitted Bruma. “It’s really strange because Arsenal have great players and a good coach.
“But they still have a lot of games to play and with the players and the coach they have, I expect them to move up the rankings a bit.”