Panathinaikos looking to avoid defeat tonight

Panathinaikos needs to avoid defeat in tonight’s Champions League Group C match against Werder Bremen in Germany to clinch third place and a UEFA Cup berth. The Greek team’s coach, Alberto Malesani, badly needs to keep the side in Europe after seeing his team dumped from the Greek Cup by second-division Ergotelis. Also, the Athens club’s prospects of challenging defending champion Olympiakos for the title hit another shoal last Saturday when Panathinaikos shipped a goal deep into injury time to lose 1-0 to mid-table Atromitos. Even victory will not be enough for the German side unless Barcelona, which is already assured of finishing top of the group, wins away to second-placed Udinese. The Italian side needs a draw to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time. Leader Barcelona is already through on 13 points, Udinese has seven, and Panathinaikos and Werder Bremen have four points each. Barcelona’s Ronaldinho, who won the Europe Player of the Year award last week, is rested, while Eto’o injured his ankle in Sunday’s league win over Villarreal. Coach Frank Rijkaard also stayed home due to an illness. (Reuters, AP)