Real under pressure to deliver against Olympiakos

Subscribe to Oneindia News

MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) Real Madrid are under pressure to deliver a handsome home win and an impressive footballing performance when they take on Olympiakos in a Champions League Group C match at the Bernabeu tomorrow (0015 hrs IST).

The jury has been out on Bernd Schuster's side this season after the German raised the bar following the dismissal of Italian coach Fabio Capello by promising both results and a return of crowd-pleasing attacking football.

Although they remain top of the table, a run of streaky wins followed by their first league defeat of the season at Espanyol on Saturday have prompted questions about the team's capacity to live up to Schuster's pledge.

Asked if he planned some extra work on set pieces after the team's defensive lapses against Espanyol, an irritated Schuster replied: ''Send me a fax telling me what I should do.'' To add to the German's worries both winger Arjen Robben and defender Gabriel Heinze returned from international duties with injuries that will keep them out of action for around a month, while midfield enforcer Mahamadou Diarra is doubtful because of a bruised knee.

Real began their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win at home to Werder Bremen, but they twice surrendered the lead to end up drawing 2-2 away to Lazio in their second game.

Olympiakos also drew against the Italians in their opener, but they had plenty of reason to celebrate after their second game, finally breaking their away hoodoo in the competition with a 3-1 success against Werder, their first win on the road in 32 games.

After a slow start on the domestic front, they have moved up the table and an emphatic 4-1 in over UEFA Cup hopefuls Panionios left them in second place, four points behind leaders AEK Athens.

Facing Real Madrid will hold few fears for Olympiakos players Darko Kovacevic and Luciano Galletti who both joined the club in the close season after lengthy stints in the Primera Liga.

Kovacevic was renowned for his ability to sow panic in the Real defence while at Real Sociedad, while Galletti scored the winner against them in the final of King's Cup in 2004 when he was at Real Zaragoza.

Another player who will be relishing the trip more than most is defender Raul Bravo who moved to the Piraeus club during the summer after 11 years on the Madrid books.

''Winning in Germany against a team like Werder Bremen, not to mention the manner in which we did it, made us believe that we can win at any ground,'' he told Uefa.com.

''I think we have a good chance at the moment. We will be going there (the Bernabeu) to win because the three points could be very important for our chances of getting through to the next stage, but a draw would also be a good result.'' Probable line-ups: Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 4-Sergio Ramos, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 12-Marcelo; 23-Wesley Sneijder, 6-Mahamadou Diarra or 8-Fernando Gago, 14-Guti, 20-Gonzalo Higuain; 7-Raul, 17-Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Olympiakos: 71-Antonis Nikopolidis; 2-Christos Patsatzoglou, 15-Raul Bravo, 18-Paraskevas Antzas, 35-Vassilis Torosidis; 7-Luciano Galletti,28-Cristian Raul Ledesma, 11-Predrag Djordjevic, 6-Ieroklis Stoltidis; 32-Lomana LuaLua, 9-Darko Kovacevic Referee: Tom Henning Ovrebo (Norway).

REUTERS CS SSC1136

Please Wait while comments are loading...