The official website for European football

Stakes high in Athenian classic

Published: Saturday 17 February 2007, 2.36CET
After a dispiriting week in the UEFA Cup, AEK Athens FC and Panathinaikos FC will do battle for a UEFA Champions League place in Sunday's Athens derby.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens

UEFA.com features

Sanderson on England and Arsenal return
  • Sanderson on England and Arsenal return
  • Lyon academy products making the grade
  • Who has won titles in the most European nations?
  • Penalty shoot-outs: the long and the short of it
  • Story so far: Real Madrid CF
  • Guingamp magic floors Paris
  • Fenerbahçe great Alex calls time on career
  • Gabbiadini inspires high-flying Sampdoria
  • UEFA Champions League round of 16 classics
  • UEFA Europa League stars and strikes
1 of 10
Published: Saturday 17 February 2007, 2.36CET

Stakes high in Athenian classic

After a dispiriting week in the UEFA Cup, AEK Athens FC and Panathinaikos FC will do battle for a UEFA Champions League place in Sunday's Athens derby.
After a dispiriting week in the UEFA Cup, AEK Athens FC and Panathinaikos FC will do battle for a UEFA Champions League place in Sunday's Athens derby.

European defeats
Draws for both sides in their latest Super League outings have allowed Olympiacos CFP to extend their lead at the top into double figures. With AEK also losing 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain FC in midweek European action, while Panathinaikos went down 3-1 at RC Lens, both need a morale boost. And with first and second places in the Super League earning UEFA Champions League entry, Sunday's match is almost being seen as a play-off for the continent's top club competition.

AEK injuries
As hosts, AEK will be particularly keen to improve on some mixed form in 2007. However, coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer has Panagiotis Lagos and Perparim Hetemaj sidelined until the end of the season, while Akis Zikos and Traianos Dellas have been shorter-term absentees. Moreover, new midfield signing Pantelis Kafes only made his debut on Wednesday after recovering from injury.

'No excuses'
The PSG game also took its toll, though, as Nikolaos Georgeas and Vassilios Lakis picked up fresh knocks, although the coach refuses to look to the treatment table for excuses. "We know we have problems but we have to accept that and work harder for the remainder of the season," the Spaniard said. "I am also to blame when things don't go well. However, I can't get on the pitch and score goals myself."

Greens' goal
For Panathinaikos - one point behind AEK in third position - that may be a relief. The defeat by Lens exposed once more their defensive frailties. Yet, having failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this term, the greens are doubly determined to get there in 2007/08. Midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz said: "We have to win on Sunday. We have lost a lot of ground in recent weeks and Olympiacos have a big advantage. Second place is a feasible target, though. We can move ahead of AEK. We should have done it at home to OFI Crete last week but didn't take our chances [in a 2-2 draw]."

Lucky charm
But with 19 victories to Panathinaikos's 16 in previous meetings between the clubs, AEK may feel the force is with them. What's more, since striker Nikolaos Liberopoulos joined AEK in 2003, he has never been on the losing side against his old team. Following a week of poor fortune, a lucky charm may yet win the day.

Last updated: 18/02/07 20.37CET

Related information

Member associations
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/news/newsid=507560.html#stakes+high+athenian+classic

  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.