Olympiakos takes on Real Madrid tonight

Real Madrid and Olympiakos will try to maintain their unbeaten group records in the Champions League tonight. Both the Spanish and Greek champions have four points in Group C after each winning and drawing. Olympiakos leads on goal difference, Lazio is third with two points, and Werder Bremen has zero. Olympiakos is in good spirit after beating Bremen 3-1 earlier in the month to snap a 31-match winless streak away from home in Europe’s top club competition. In contrast, Madrid has been shaken by a 2-1 league loss at Espanyol last Saturday, its first defeat of the season. However, Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis recognizes his team will be the underdog at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – especially since it hasn’t won in its 11 visits to Spain. «Real is one of the five best teams in the world,» Lemonis said. «Lots of strong opponents have lost at its home ground, but in effect things are pretty clear – we have nothing to lose from this game. On the contrary, we can only gain.» Madrid’s defeat at Espanyol ended a nine-game unbeaten streak in league and European games and spoiled Bernd Schuster’s unblemished start as coach. Madrid will be without injured forward Arjen Robben and defenders Gabriel Heinze and Pepe. Another defender, Fabio Cannavaro, and midfielder Mahamadou Diarra are also ruled out after knocks on Saturday. Schuster recalled Robinho and Julio Baptista after omitting them from Saturday’s game as a punishment for their late arrival from international duty with Brazil. Facing Real Madrid will hold few fears for Olympiakos players Darko Kovacevic and Luciano Galletti who both joined the club in the close season after lengthy stints in the Primera Liga. Kovacevic, who has scored four goals in the past five games for Olympiakos, was renowned for his ability to sow panic in the Real defense while at Real Sociedad, scoring 10 goals in 15 appearances against the Spanish powerhouse. «It’s great to be playing Madrid again. I’m on a good run and I feel really fit,» Kovacevic told sports daily Marca yesterday. «Let’s see if I get a chance to score and help my team get a positive result.» Galletti scored the winner against Real in the final of the King’s Cup in 2004 when he was at Real Zaragoza. Olympiakos defender Didier Domi will miss the game because of injury. Another player who will be relishing the trip is defender Raul Bravo who moved to the Piraeus club in the summer after 11 years on the Madrid books. «Winning in Germany against a team like Werder Bremen, not to mention the manner in which we did it, made us believe that we can win at any ground,» he told «I think we have a good chance at the moment. We will be going there [the Bernabeu] to win because the three points could be very important for our chances of getting through to the next stage, but a draw would also be a good result.» (AP/Reuters)