‘We have come here to win’

Olympiakos has a chance to effectively ensure its progress to the next round of the UEFA Cup today (9.45 p.m.) with a win over Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine. After three fantastic performances in Greece and Europe that saw Olym-piakos thrash Iraklis (away), Benfica and Panionios (both at home), the Greeks can now expect their form to translate into success outside Greece as well. In the three away games they have played in Europe this season, they have garnered one victory and two losses. The flight to Kharkiv had a forced detour to Kiev yesterday, due to fog, but this has not deterred the Greek champions: «We are leaving that behind; we have come here to win,» said Olympiakos coach Ernesto Valverde at a press conference in Kharkiv yesterday. «We are in good shape and we have a strong chance of winning. It will be a close game that will be decided in midfield. The team that wins this will qualify,» said the Spanish manager. In-form Argentine playmaker Fernando Belluschi stated, «This is our great chance to get the win we need to secure qualification,» while Costas Mitroglou, scorer of two goals against Panionios, said, «I think we will do great against Metalist; I believe we will win.» Valverde has left injured players Ieroklis Stoltidis and Darko Kovacevic in Greece, but defender Vassilis Torosidis is now ready to return to action. Olympiakos will have all but qualified with a win tonight, while a draw might also do, depending on the result of the group’s other tie, between Hertha Berlin and Galatasaray in Germany. Hertha is Olympiakos’s last opponent in a fortnight’s time, while Galatasaray has already beaten Olympiakos 1-0 in Istanbul. New coach for Iraklis? Reports from Thessaloniki last night suggested that Iraklis, which last Saturday celebrated its centenary, will hire Makis Katsavakis as its new coach. After the sacking of Angel Pedraza a month ago, Iraklis had his assistant Rodolfo Borrell take over as caretaker. Katsavakis is expected in Thessaloniki today to discuss terms with the club.

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