All set for tomorrow’s derby

The pinnacle of team sport events in Greece is set to take place tomorrow evening, as the Panathinaikos and Olympiakos soccer teams go head to head at the capital’s Olympic Stadium in a game that will see most Greeks glued to their TV screens. This, of course, does not apply to the 65,000 Panathinaikos fans who have tickets to get into the brimming-to-capacity stadium at 7 p.m. The visitors lead the Super League table and have a five-point margin over fourth-placed Panathinaikos, so a draw would not be a bad result for them at all. Olympiakos will be without central defender Paraskevas Antzas for the big game. Antzas did not take part in training yesterday and joins Brazilian fullback Leonardo and young striker Costas Mitroglou on the sidelines. Coach Ernesto Valverde seems to be in two minds about whether he should use Sebastian Leto or captain Predrag Djordjevic on the left of the midfield. Olympiakos Chairman Sokra-tis Kokkalis has reportedly splashed out 3 million euros to pay off outstanding debts to his players from last season ahead of the derby in a move seen as an attempt to improve morale in the camp ahead of the game. For the same reason, the Olympiakos training session was open to fans yesterday. Panathinaikos, which also trained before its fans yesterday, will be without midfielder Sotiris Ninis, but Giorgos Karagounis and Andreas Ivanschitz should be fit after the Greens’ midweek heroics against Werder Bremen. Panathinaikos asked on Thursday for one of the referee’s assistants to be changed, as he was also present at the club’s recent 2-1 win at Panionios and some of his decisions did not go down well with the Greens. Federation regulations do not allow for an assistant referee to officiate over the same team for two weeks in a row. He was duly replaced yesterday. In the other games in Round 9 today, Panserraikos hosts OFI, Xanthi clashes with AEK and PAOK greets Panionios, who will be missing striker Lambros Choutos after a recent disagreement with manager Ewald Lienen. On Sunday, apart from the derby, Asteras Tripolis entertains Panthrakikos, Thrasyvoulos meets Aris, Larissa visits Ergotelis and Iraklis will seek its first win against Levadiakos.