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Madrid seek milestone victory

Published: Tuesday 4 December 2001, 1.03CET
The UEFA Champions League brings the best out of Real Madrid CF, who tonight against Panathinaikos FC seek their 40th win in the competition.

Tournament statistics

Real MadridPanathinaikos

Goals scored35
Attempts on target126
Attempts off target99
Fouls committed256
Yellow cards25
Red cards0

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Published: Tuesday 4 December 2001, 1.03CET

Madrid seek milestone victory

The UEFA Champions League brings the best out of Real Madrid CF, who tonight against Panathinaikos FC seek their 40th win in the competition.

With Real Madrid CF's domestic form starting to keep pace with that of their UEFA Champions League performances, the Spanish side are at last justifying their position as arguably Europe's outstanding team.

Last eight
Another win, against Panathinaikos FC at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Tuesday, to follow up that in Prague recently, should see Vicente del Bosque's side nicely on their way to the quarter-finals of Europe's premier club competition.

Weekend win
Although the Spanish champions moved to within two points of Primera División leaders Deportivo Alavés at the weekend, the Madrid coach was less than enamoured with his team's performance in the 2-1 home win against Club Atlético Osasuna, which must have offered a few crumbs of comfort to Panathinaikos. Indeed, but for some fine goalkeeping by Iker Casillas they might have been staring at another disappointing Spanish first division result.

'Exquisite football'
"We played some exquisite football at the beginning of the match," said Del Bosque, "but just as everything was light in the first half, we went into the shadows in the second half and ended up suffering unnecessarily. Osasuna realised we weren't capable of finishing off our counterattacks and we left too much space between lines. I think we deserved to win, but it was spoilt by a poor finish."

Majority of possession
Europe, however, invariably brings the best out in Madrid and it will be a surprise if they do not register their 40th win in the competition against Panathinaikos. The Athens club opened their second group stage campaign with a slightly disappointing goalless draw at home to FC Porto despite enjoying 61 per cent of possession.

Good omen
Greek clubs are usually a good omen for Madrid: they beat Olympiakos Piraeus FC en route to Champions League glory in both the 1997/98 and 1999/00 campaigns, while AEK Athens were brushed aside as Madrid triumphed in the UEFA Cup in the 1985/86 season. In fact, they have a 100 per cent record against Greek opposition.

Dismal record
Panathinaikos, for their part, have a 100 per cent record against Spanish clubs in Spain, though not one they can boast about: they have lost on each of their five visits there. Like Madrid, the Greek side have been struggling to battle on two fronts and, though they fought back from two goals down to draw with league leaders Olympiakos, Emmanuel Olisadebe netting both goals for Panathinaikos, the domestic championship seems to be slipping away from them. After maintaining his unbeaten record in five games against their Athens rivals, Panathinaikos coach Yannis Kynastas refused to throw in the towel and said he was still optimistic that they could overhaul Olympiakos.

Losing mentality
The draw followed a 2-1 away defeat by Iraklis FC, after which Kynastas accused the players of developing a losing mentality. He also took the unusual decision of fining Croatian international Goran Vlaovic €1680 for taking - and missing - a penalty in that game after he had instructed that Angelis Basinas should take any penalties that arose.

McManaman injured
Madrid are without English midfield player Steve McManaman, who injured his back in last week's 3-1 Copa del Rey win away to Lanzarote, while Luis Figo is one caution away from a suspension. Panathinaikos have three players in that perilous position: Panagiotis Fissas, Giorgios Karagounis and Jan Michaelsen.

Last updated: 15/11/12 20.35CET