Panathinaikos FC may be the most unexpected name in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, but the club are no strangers to this level of competition. In 1995/96 they reached the last four, beating FC Porto, FC Nantes and Legia Warszawa on the way before falling to holders AFC Ajax, and this time around they have got the better of leading teams from England, Germany and Spain, not to mention holding Real Madrid CF to a draw. FC Barcelona will be tough, but the number of top teams to fall at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium means that the second leg in Athens will not be one the Catalan club will relish.
Their defence has been one of the meanest in the Champions League, not to mention domestically, and all but one of their back-line are Greek internationals. They have leaked just three in this competition at home, two in the draw with Madrid, and recently went nearly 500 minutes without conceding an away goal.
Forwards Michael Konstantinou and Emmanuel Olisadabe lack consistency, as was shown in the goalless draw at home against Porto, and need Giorgios Karagounis and Goran Vlaovic to be on form to create chances. The recent rumpus after the Athens derby against Olympiakos Piraeus FC could also unsettle them and potential punishments could disrupt their domestic title challenge.
First group stage:
A comfortable two-leg win over SK Slavia Praha in the third qualifying round secured entry to Group C. Rank outsiders to top the group they got off to a flying start with an away win at FC Schalke 04 and followed that up with home victories over RCD Mallorca and Arsenal FC. Though they lost the returns against the latter two, a further win over Schalke ensured they topped the group, their defensive strength shown by the fact they conceding just three goals - while their rivals all let in nine.
Second group stage:
Drawn alongside AC Sparta Praha, Porto and Madrid, Panathinaikos's start was less than encouraging. A home draw with Porto and a 3-0 loss in Madrid left them struggling at Christmas, but two wins in eight days over Sparta in February left them within a point of the last eight, which they gained in the final match against Madrid after a defeat in Portugal.
UEFA Champions League statistics (not including qualifying round):
Played: 12 Won: 6 Drawn: 2 Lost: 4 Goals scored: 15 Goals against: 11
Top goalscorer: Konstantinou (5)
Last five results:
31 March: Hellenic National League FC PAOK Thessaloniki (a) 2-2
24 March Hellenic National League Olympiakos Piraeus FC (h) 1-1
20 March UEFA Champions League Real Madrid CF (h) 2-2
16 March Hellenic National League Iraklis FC (h) 2-1
12 March UEFA Champions League FC Porto (a) 2-1
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