SPORTS

A Real test facing PAO

Panathinaikos faces Real Madrid in Group C of the Champions League today with its contender for European Footballer of the Year in fine form and looking to pick up a few tips from his opposite number, Raul. Nigerian-born Polish international Emmanuel Olisadebe was one of the surprise names on the short list for France Football’s Golden Ball and will line up against a trio of favorites for the prestigious prize in Raul, Zinedine Zidane, and Luis Figo. Panathinaikos traveled to Spain holding second place in Group C after the first round of matches, having been held to a goalless draw on its home ground by Porto. It will be looking to snatch a point from leader Real, who beat Sparta Prague 3-2 away in its first game, but knows it faces a tough task against a team of talented players. Olisadebe, meanwhile, will be trying to pick up pointers from Raul after confessing his admiration for the Spaniard’s gift for the unexpected. «A player like Raul can score when no one expects him to. You don’t see the goal coming but he picks the spot and puts it there. «Most of the time you can see from the stands when a goal is coming, but with Raul a lot of times that doesn’t happen,» he said. Not that Olisadebe is short of goal-scoring ideas. He was joint second scorer in the European World Cup qualifiers with eight goals as he helped Poland top its group ahead of Ukraine to secure a place in next year’s finals. He again proved his worth at club level on Saturday as he scored two vital goals to earn Panathinaikos a draw at the home ground of title rival Olympiakos. But the former Polonia Warsaw striker was modest about his own standing in the European game after hearing the names on the Golden Ball short list. «I would rank myself 49th out of 50,» the 23-year-old told Greek daily To Vima. «I don’t even know what it means to be number one or number two on that list. I’m just a good player,» he said. Olisadebe is the first Greek-based player to appear on the short list since former Olympiakos Piraeus star Zlatko Zahovic two years ago, but the Polish international has hinted that he won’t stay in Greece forever.(Reuters)