Revenge sought tonight

Olympiakos, playing against Monaco tonight in a Champions League game before a capacity home crowd at its newly reconstructed Karaiskaki Stadium, will push to avenge a bitter 2-1 away loss against its French rival a fortnight ago. Monaco, last year’s runner-up, got off to a lightning start at its Stade Louis II for an early 2-0 lead. But a spirited second-half performance from Olympiakos very nearly leveled the match for the Greek team, which, so far this season, has showed a sturdy self in the Champions League. Going into tonight’s encounter, Monaco leads the competition’s Group A with six points after three rounds. Olympiakos and Liverpool share second spot with four points apiece, while Spanish side Deportivo is last, two points behind. The top two sides from eight groups advance to knockout home-and-away competition. Monaco’s track record in Greece lacks brilliance but has nevertheless been consistent. Though five previous visits for European club-level competition have failed to produce a victory for Monaco, which plays in the French league, it remains undefeated, with draws on every single occasion. Four of these draws were registered against AEK, the most recent being in last season’s group stage of the Champions League. In its other Greek mission, against Olympiakos in a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup clash during the 1992/93 season, Monaco emerged with a scoreless draw. But it was not enough to counter a 1-0 home loss in the home-and-away tie’s first leg that put the Piraeus side through to the competition’s quarterfinals. Olympiakos’s overall record against French competition reads three wins, two draws, and one loss. Most recently, in the 2001/02 Champions League, Olympiakos defeated Lille at home in a first-round group match after having lost in France. Both sides, though, were deprived of second-round group berths by Deportivo La Coruna and Manchester United. A season earlier, also up against French competition in the Champions League, Olympiakos overcame Olympique Lyonnais but was eventually knocked out of the competition by another French team, Lyon, following a 1-0 away loss.