By Paris Ayiomamitis in Athens
Liverpool FC may have lifted the European Champion Clubs' Cup four times - four more than all Greek sides put together - but Olympiacos CFP are not afraid of their illustrious Group A visitors.
Both teams gained useful results on Matchday 1 - Liverpool beating last season's runners-up AS Monaco FC 2-0 and Olympiacos holding 2003/04 semi-finalists RC Deportivo La Coruña to a goalless draw in Spain - and the Piraeus club's coach Dušan Bajevic believes his men could impress again.
"If Olympiacos are at their best they should fear nobody, but we cannot just say this, we have to prove it," Bajevic said. "The gap between clubs in Europe has narrowed, but we have full respect for Liverpool who are a historic side that have won trophies and are much better than they used to be. But they have weaknesses and we must exploit them."
The coach, who led Olympiacos to the knockout stages in 1998/99 in his previous spell in charge, wants more of the form showed a fortnight ago. "We must repeat the performance against Deportivo, meaning we have to be disciplined and run for 90 minutes and play with more imagination," he said. "
Liverpool are stronger and faster, and are very good in the air. We must not allow them to play their game. The slower we keep the pace the better."
Bajevic is expected to field an unchanged team as he welcomes back left-winger Grigorios Georgatos and central defender Gabriel Schürrer who missed Saturday's 1-0 win at Aris Thessaloniki FC - their second victory in two domestic games this season. Ieroklis Stoltidis will play alongside Georgatos in midfield, and said: "It will be a very difficult match against a side that has changed considerably since last season. We expect them to continue their good displays but we are also a very good team."
The transformation in the Liverpool side has been brought about by new manager Rafael Benítez, who led Valencia CF to the UEFA Cup last term, a year after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. However, captain Steven Gerrard is out with a broken foot, meaning Salif Diao or Igor Bišcan could step in, while Harry Kewell is doubtful with a thigh strain.
Benítez said of Kewell, who missed Saturday's 3-0 success against Norwich City FC: "He is OK now but he is not 100 per cent. If I decide he can play, he will play. We need his help." Diao himself admitted the chance of a second start this season was far from his mind when Gerrard was hurt. "The first thing I thought was that we have lost one our best players," the Senegalese international said.
'Play to win'
Still, Benítez remains in a positive frame of mind. "We have four midfielders and all can play," he said, before reminding his players of their task in Greece. "We have a long way to go, I do not play for a draw, I always play to win.
Olympiacos are a good team and we have great respect for them. But we can win."
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