Zico believes Olympiacos FC have drawn "one of the most impressive teams in the group stage" in FC Girondins de Bordeaux, while his opposite number Laurent Blanc has fond memories of Piraeus.
The sides will meet for the first time at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on 23 February next year and Olympiacos coach Zico expects a difficult game. "Bordeaux were one of the most impressive teams in the group stage," the 56-year-old said. "They finished ahead of Bayern and Juventus. They have several players in the French national team, two Brazilians I know well and a coach who is doing an excellent job. They are a balanced and organised team, but our task would be just as tough with any of the other seven opponents we could have drawn. I believe we will see two high-quality matches and, as both teams have reached this stage of the competition, they have an equal chance to get through."
Bordeaux midfielder Alou Diarra agreed. Though the 28-year-old maintained that Olympiacos "are not the most prestigious name" in the first knockout round, he insisted "they are not here by accident", adding: "The trip to Athens will be hot-to-boiling because of the home fans." French sides have had a mixed record in past games in Piraeus, with Olympiacos's ten matches against Ligue 1 opponents netting them five wins, two draws and three defeats. The Greek champions' record on French soil is not impressive, though, with ten games giving them a record of two wins, one draw and seven defeats. Of their six knockout ties against French sides they have won two and lost four.
Bordeaux's only previous experience of Greek opposition saw them win 3-2 at Panionios GSS in a 2007/08 UEFA Cup group-stage fixture, but coach Blanc has more intimate experience of what they can expect in Piraeus; the former centre-back faced Olympiacos in four UEFA Champions League group games as a Manchester United FC player. The Red Devils won all four matches, while the 44-year-old coach's strike in the 3-2 win in Piraeus on 23 October 2002 was his last in European competition. "We wanted to avoid the Milan sides," he said. "We must now approach Olympiacos seriously. We can be satisfied with that draw. We could have drawn a bigger name, but keep in mind that Olympiacos are among the ever-present sides in the Champions League. They must feel they have also avoided the big fish."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.