Sokratis Papastathopoulos will have the chance to see his former Arsenal teammates again, this time in less friendly circumstances as Olympiakos draws Arsenal in the Europa League last-16.
Almost one year ago today, Olympiakos pulled off a stunning last minute equaliser against Arsenal to proceed through the next stage of the Europa League. This year, the Gunners will be seeking revenge.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos spent two and a half years in England, forming close relationships with Arsenal players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who he spent many years with at Borussia Dortmund, as well as Mesut Ozil before his departure from the club.
This will be the first time the Greek will have to defend against Aubameyang in a professional match after having played with the Gabonese player for up to seven years.
Speaking about the matchup on Olympiakos TV, Sokratis said he believes it will be a “difficult game”.
“This game is something special [for me]. I believe it will be a difficult game.”
“Arsenal is a very big team. [Since the last game] They have the same coach with two or three new players, it’s a team with very high quality but we also have points that we can hit.”
Last year, Olympiacos striker El-Arabi netted a dramatic late winner in extra-time to knock Arsenal out of the Europa League. Aubameyang missed a close opportunity in the six yard box at the 120+4′ mark, putting the shot wide and drawing their Europa League campaign to a close.
At the previous tie in Greece, Sokratis spoke about how proud he felt to play on home soil, despite playing for an opposition team.
“Twelve years later I returned to a Greek stadium. Even as an adversary, even as a “stranger” it was a special experience for me that filled me with special emotions. In my football career up until now, moments have been important to me. So I lived and yesterday at such a moment to fight against a Greek team. I only hold what was generous to me as a whole. Some small disagreements just stay out of touch with me!!!”
Now on Greek soil, Sokratis will feel even stronger to prevent his former teammates from scoring and bring Olympiakos closer to a Europa League title.