Against the odds

Just days after the national team’s 5-1 drubbing against Finland in a World Cup qualifier, the moment of truth has arrived for Greek soccer at European club-level competition. Putting it frankly, we can only hope that it will be on the side of local teams. As things currently stand, many teams, particularly Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, Greece’s two representatives in the lucrative Champions League, will be in need of good fortune. Both clubs will begin their European quests this week as untested sides, whose domestic competition has yet to begin, against teams already fully immersed in their leagues. Greece’s national league, not one of Europe’s more renowned competitions, begins on September 23. Tonight, Panathinaikos will take on Schalke 04 at the German club’s brand-new 64-billion- drachma stadium. Tomorrow night, Olympiakos will be up against English powerhouse Manchester United at home. In Germany, five rounds of Germany’s renowned Bundesliga have been completed, while a round less has been played in the English Premier league. This alone – without also taking into consideration the far more accomplished reputations of their foreign rivals – is a disadvantage for both Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. Needless to say – the following argument has been brought forward year after year – our teams don’t have much chance of success in Europe as long as the national league remains weak in competition, corrupt, and anything but law abiding, be it on the pitch, stands, or administrative offices. At times, sporadic, minor success breaks the scene of overall failure to create a distorted picture far from reality. Greece’s national league is unique in that it is the only domestic competition that commences in late September. To make things worse, each year the same two or three title contenders vye for top spot while the rest of the sides merely make up the competition’s numbers. Subsequently, local fans are desperate to witness a change of scene, as has been reflected over the past few days by the huge demand for tickets to Manchester United’s game against Olympiakos. Though missing from the local scene for several years now, or ever since interest in soccer began to fade, black marketeers have reemerged to cover the needs for tomorrow night’s clash. Looking at the facts objectively, one can only give the upper hand to the rivals of Greece’s two Champions League representatives. As usual, local fans should also expect the occassional outbreak of good play by their teams, but nothing more. Reasonable fans have already taken all this into account and will turn up to the stadiums hoping that their teams can, against the odds, strike up good performances. The Nautical Museum of Thera’s CD-ROM is highly user-friendly and suitable for all ages, as long as they have a basic knowledge of computers. Learning becomes a pleasure, while orientation is easy. Returning to the contents page can be done by a touch of a button to locate a topic of interest. Three of the things in store for people in this CD-ROM are a video recording of a storm, Kadio Kolymva’s book I Pano Meria tou Kosmou (The Top of the World), which can be read on screen, and an article by Constantinos Tseklenis – a tribute to one of the most celebrated shipwrights of Santorini.

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