Big games tonight for the Cup

Soccer league leaders are involved tonight in Cup quarterfinal ties that promise to provide plenty of drama, as PAOK greets Olympiakos and Panserraikos hosts Panathinaikos. First in Serres, at 7 p.m., Panserraikos will enjoy a pleasant distraction from its fight for survival in the Super League, as it entertains Panathinaikos in the first leg of the home-and-away tie. Coach Hugo Broos has said that Panserraikos will focus only on the league, but the challenge of playing Panathinaikos cannot be ignored. The Athens giants may well parade their new signing from Poland, Jakub Wawrzyniak, given the injury to central defender Josu Sarriegi. But the big match of the night is the match between the top two in the league, PAOK and Olympiakos, in Thessaloniki. Fresh from triumphs over their crosstown rivals, Aris and AEK respectively, the two teams will clash in front of a capacity crowd at the Toumba Stadium at 9.15 p.m. PAOK will not have main striker Zlatan Muslimovic, while Olympiakos will be without top scorer Luciano Galletti. Reports suggest that the new signing from Blackburn Rovers, Matt Derbyshire, will be on the Reds’ bench for the first time. He is not the only major story from the transfer window that closed last Monday. PAOK has acquired Panionios outcast Lambros Choutos, who was officially presented yesterday, saying, «It is easy to turn into a PAOK fan.» He previously played for Olympiakos. AEK’s Angelos Basinas, the Greece captain, has moved to English side Portsmouth for the next year and a half. He joins fellow Greece international Fanis Gekas, who has also moved there on loan from Bayer Leverkusen. Gekas’s place at Leverkusen has now been taken by his striking partner on the national team, Angelos Charisteas, on loan from Nuremberg. Back in Greece, Larissa has brought back former Turkish international Tumer Metin, who also spent the latter part of last season at the Thessaly club. Panionios has signed an 18-year-old Ivory Coast-born striker from Hull City, Yann Ekra.

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