Targeting the first win

NICOSIA – Panathinaikos is visiting Anorthosis Famagusta in Nicosia today (9.45 p.m.) for the second round of the Champions League group stage and will try to obtain its first victory. However, if it fails to operate properly in defense, it is risking enduring the same problems as Olympiakos, Rapid Vienna and even Werder Bremen, who suffered by the Cypriots’ counterattacks. «Others have already paid the price so that we can know how Anorthosis plays. This is a team that plays better without the ball than with it. It plays the patient game, waiting for the opponent’s error,» said Panathinaikos coach Henk ten Cate in yesterday’s press conference in the Cypriot capital. «We play the offensive game and Anorthosis is not the team that will force us to use defensive tactics. Still, we must be very cautious of its counterattacks,» he added. Chances are the Dutch coach will opt for the same lineup as the one with which Panathinaikos won its last league game at Aris. Mario Galinovic will be in goal, Loukas Vintra and Nikos Spyropoulos flanking central defenders Josu Sarriegi and Simao, Gilberto Silva and Marcelo Mattos will link defenders with wingers Andreas Ivanschitz and Bryce Moon, as Silva Cleyton will play in the hole behind lone striker Dimitris Salpigidis. Having said that, ten Cate is known to spring a surprise or two in important matches, so we may also see Yiannis Goumas instead of Sarriegi, or Alexandros Tziolis replacing Ivanschitz or Moon, for the team to be stronger in the air. In front of a capacity crowd at the GSP stadium, Anorthosis will play its usual 4-5-1 formation with Lukasz Sosin up front and three men behind him providing him with long balls or crosses from the sides. «We respect Panathinaikos but we believe we can beat it with the support of 20,000 fans,» said Temuri Ketsbaia, Anorthosis’s manager. Panathinaikos has sold just over 1,500 tickets but its fans will be three times as many at the Nicosia ground, considering the Greek club’s popularity in Cyprus.