SPORTS

Olympiakos boosted by first away win

Olympiakos returns to Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium for the fourth time in the club’s history this week to take on the Spanish giant with both teams sharing Group C’s top spot in the Champions League with four points apiece after two rounds. The Piraeus team’s first visit to the Bernabeu in the 1997-98 season proved to be traumatic. Olympiakos was defeated 5-1. Then, two years later, the Greek team was defeated 3-0. These games took place when coach Dusan Bajevic, now at Aris, was in charge of Olympiakos. More recently, while under Norwegian coach Trond Sollied, the Greek team developed a penchant for caving in late in games. Last time Olympiakos encountered Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, the Greek club conceded a goal late in the game to lose 2-1. In an interview with Kathimerini, former Olympiakos player Sinisa Gogic, now coaching at Cyprus’s Apollon Limassol, said his former club was capable of emerging with a good result from Madrid this time. He had represented the Piraeus team at the Bernabeu stadium in 1999. Responding to a question on whether Olympiakos’s recent 3-1 victory against Werder Bremen – the club’s first ever away win in the Champions League – had boosted the team’s morale ahead of this week’s game in Madrid, Gogic noted: «Definitely. Olympiakos – both the players and fans – had been waiting for this away win for years. I could say it’s broken a spell, because there was no luck in previous seasons… Olympiakos was truly magnificent throughout the game against Werder Bremen. I saw a team that covered ground as a whole with support from all for all. Also, the strategy was spot on. The players worked for 90 minutes to achieve this major win.» Gogic’s visit to the Bernabeu with Olympiakos in the 1999-2000 season is remembered by the Greek club’s fans for an alleged hand-ball offense by Real’s Roberto Carlos in the area which the referee never saw, denying the Greek team the chance to equalize. Moreover, Carlos, Olympiakos fans have argued, should have been sent off. «It was unfair. Unfortunately, when up against powerhouses, Greek teams are treated unfairly.» NIKOS GAVALAS