A step away from qualifying

Earlier this season, Olym-piakos’s task of prospering in a Champions League group against Spanish, German and Italian opposition seemed daunting, but the Piraeus club now finds itself close to qualifying for the competition’s next stage, the Round of 16. Ending its group-stage play tonight at Karaiskaki Stadium, Olympiakos takes on Werder Bremen, currently second in the Bundesliga, knowing that a draw would be enough to see the Piraeus club through. Defeat would most likely provide the Greek club with third place in Group C and a consolation spot in the less prestigious UEFA Cup’s next round – as long as Real Madrid does not lose at home against Roman club Lazio by up to three goals. Olympiakos and Real Madrid go into tonight’s concluding round of play in Group C as the co-leaders on eight points from five games. Werder Bremen follows two points behind and Lazio is last with five points. «I don’t know what the game’s outcome will be, but I’m certain that we will fight like crazy. We know that this game is like a final. Our fate is in our hands,» said Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis, who said his team would go for victory, despite knowing that a draw would suffice. «It’s important that fans are embracing the effort being made at Olympiakos to build a good team,» he continued, referring to Olymp-iakos’s uncommonly sound record in Europe this season. Last time Olympiakos and Werder Bremen met, early in October in Germany, the Greek side won 3-1 in what was its first Champions League away win after numerous attempts over the years. A fortnight ago, Olympiakos registered another away win, 2-1 at Lazio, to go into tonight’s game joint top of Group C. Lemonis will need to come up with solutions for several absences, including defender Raul Bravo, sidelined by injury, and the influential Predrag Djordjevic, who is suspended.