Salpiggidis to miss big opener

Panathinaikos key striker Dimitris Salpiggidis will miss this weekend’s opening round of play in the Greek Super League – which pits the Athens soccer club against archrival Olympiakos – after being suspended for one game by a domestic sports tribunal yesterday. A Panathinaikos legal representative and Salpiggidis, who was sent off for a bad tackle during a friendly match against Lazio in Rome earlier this month, made unsuccessful efforts to avoid the one-game suspension. Salpiggidis contended that the tackle on a Lazio player that earned him his red card deserved no more than a yellow card. His club’s legal representative told the hearing that the match report sent to the Greek soccer federation by its Italian counterpart needed clarification, presumably to win time and avoid the suspension for this weekend’s important opening game, at home, against Olympiakos, the defending champion. According to international soccer regulations, suspension as a result of red-card offenses in friendly games falls under the jurisdiction of national federations. Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis told a news conference yesterday that his team would seek victory at Panathinaikos in this weekend’s season opener. «Personally speaking, I like Leoforos Alexandras. It’s a true soccer stadium,» said former player Lemonis, referring to Panathinaikos’s home ground, whose stands tightly surround the playing area. «We’re going to prepare the boys who don’t know what kind of an atmosphere is generated there,» he added, meaning the large number of new arrivals at Olympiakos, many of them from abroad. Lemonis said that radical changes to the club’s roster had been made in an effort to bolster the Greek club for the greater demands of Champions League play. «We assessed the club’s previous roster. The basic conclusion was that it lacked rhythm, running ability and other elements that are necessary in modern soccer,» said Lemonis. «We made comparisons to Italy and Spain, and, unfortunately, the results were not good, so we had to bring in high-quality players.» Despite dominating the domestic league over the past decade, Olympiakos, to the frustration of fans, has repeatedly failed to make impact in the Champions League.