SPORTS

Olympiakos faces difficult night against hungry Real

After a shock 3-1 home defeat to Norway’s Rosenborg, Olympiakos faces Real Madrid away tonight for its second Champions League Game. Olympiakos coach Trond Sollied said yesterday he will be happy with a draw but refused to reveal either the starting lineup or the formation he will follow. «We came here to play uninhibited soccer and, if victory comes, so much the better,» said Olympiakos’s Brazilian superstar Rivaldo. Real will be out to prove it is capable of winning games without the help of leading Brazilian striker Ronaldo. Real coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo says there will be no room for error. «This game will be like a final for us,» the Brazilian told a news conference after training yesterday. «It doesn’t matter if we play well or badly, we just have to win.» Like Olympiakos, Real got off to a dreadful start in their bid for a 10th European Cup when it slumped to a 3-0 defeat away to Olympique Lyon two weeks ago. But a 3-1 Primera Liga victory at home to Atletico Bilbao last Thursday and a 3-0 win away to Alaves on the weekend have helped ease the tension and Luxemburgo says he is now looking to the fans to get behind the team. «I’ve got confidence in this team and I know that we are on the up,» said Luxemburgo. «We have made some important changes in terms of tactics and players. We are going better in the league and now we’ve got a vital game in the Champions League. «We have to approach it with a winning mentality and make sure we are on top form. The fans also have to give us their support from the start because it will be vital to create an atmosphere of pressure at the Bernabeu.» Luxemburgo said there was no danger of his side underestimating their rivals and singled out Rivaldo as a major threat. «We certainly aren’t overconfident,» he said. «We want to play well, but at the same time we have a lot of respect for our opponents. They are doing well in their league and have got some very experienced players. (Rivaldo) is a quality player who is capable of causing a lot of problems,» Luxemburgo, who has coached Rivaldo in the past, both at Brazil club Palmeiras and the national team, added. «If you give him space at any time he can score or create danger.» Real continues to be overly dependent on the finishing power of Ronaldo, affectionately known as «el gordo» (fatty) by his teammates. «El gordo walks around for 70 minutes, but he gets one chance and puts it away – he always makes the difference,» said midfielder Pablo Garcia. In Ronaldo’s absence, his fellow countryman Robinho, who started the Alaves match on the bench, is set to partner Raul in attack. (Reuters/Kathimerini)