Coach seeks further passion

An aggressive attitude could be the difference when Olympiakos faces Real Madrid tonight in the Champions League. A 10-man Olympiakos kept Madrid on the defensive on October 24, before Robinho scored in the 83rd minute and Javier Balboa added an injury-time goal to give the Spanish champions a 4-2 win in Group C. «What I’d like my players to remember is the passion they showed [in Madrid], when they looked their opponents straight in the eye, even with 10 men,» Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis said yesterday. «That experience changed our players and I hope it becomes the way we play from now on.» The Greek champions will be missing defender Vassilis Torossidis, who was sent off in Madrid. Defender Paraskevas Antzas and midfielder Cristian Ledesma will also miss the game due to injury. Christos Patsatzoglou and Tassos Pantos are expected to fill the gaps in midfield and defense. «We have many serious absences but we’ll have to play with what we have,» Lemonis said. «We can’t cry about our injuries… we will play to win. The sidelined players are definitely important, but we do have the players who can fill in and help.» Olympiakos beat PAOK 2-1 Saturday in the Greek league to narrow the gap on leader AEK to three points. Lemonis’s job was considered in jeopardy earlier this season, but his fortunes were turned around by a 3-1 win at Werder Bremen on October 3 – ending a 31-match win-less streak away in the Champions League. Three games into Group C’s six-game course, Olympiakos has four points, ahead of Werder with three and Lazio with two. Madrid leads with seven points. «I believe that this round of play will be instrumental for the group’s standings,» said Lemonis, while admitting that he would eagerly await the result of the evening’s other Group C game in Rome between Lazio and Werder. «We can’t hide the fact that we’d prefer a draw.» Real Madrid will be missing winger Arjen Robben and forward Gonzalo Higuain, while Wesley Sneijder is a doubtful starter in midfield. In the Spanish league, current leaders Madrid lost to Sevilla 2-0 Saturday, allowing rival FC Barcelona to come within a point of the top. (AP, Kathimerini)