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Having lost their opening UEFA Champions League fixture a fortnight ago, Real Madrid CF coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo believes only victory will suffice when Greek champions Olympiacos CFP visit the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday night.
Absentees in attack
Luxemburgo has two major absentees for the Group F game, with Zinedine Zidane still missing with a groin strain and Ronaldo completing a two-match suspension. Guti will again stand in for Zidane, while either Julio Baptista or Robinho will spearhead Madrid's attack in the absence of their fellow Brazilian forward. Elsewhere, reserve goalkeeper Diego López is back from a fractured finger as Madrid look to bounce back from the demoralising 3-0 Matchday 1 defeat at Olympique Lyonnais.
'We have to win'
Whether we play well or not, we have to win this game," Luxemburgo said. "We must call on all our fans to create the right atmosphere, as this is like a final. My players are not brimming with confidence but they understand that they have the responsibility of putting in a decent performance."
Iker Casillas echoed those words, adding that consecutive Primera División wins against Athletic Club Bilbao and Deportivo Alavés have boosted morale. "This is a chance to start afresh. After losing to Lyon this will be an opportunity to get back in the running and whoever loses will take a big step backwards," he said. "Olympiacos are in a similar position - they have yet to pick up a point. Perhaps we have not been creating many clear chances of late, but we must be clinical when they arrive."
According to the home coach, Madrid must be extra vigilant against an Olympiacos team who are "solid at the back and lethal on the break". "They have highly-experienced players and can cause harm from set-pieces," he said. For this reason, Madrid centre-backs Sergio Ramos, Iván Helguera and Jonathan Woodgate devoted extra time in training to defending high balls into the penalty box.
'You never know'
Luxemburgo's opposite number Trond Sollied is all too aware of the task facing his side, who are yet to win a Champions League match outside Athens in 25 attempts and have lost on seven of nine visits to Spain. "Playing Madrid at their ground is always difficult but we will be trying not to disappoint," said Sollied, whose charges lost 3-1 at home to Rosenborg BK two weeks ago. "Even though past encounters have not been favourable for us, you never know what might happen."
Centre-back Georgios Anatolakis and midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis are back in the squad after being rested for Saturday's 2-0 triumph against Akratitos FC, although Sollied will not decide on his starting XI till the morning of the game. "We will be doing light training to get all the tiredness from travelling out of our system and make our team selection based on Wednesday's session," he explained.
Having faced Madrid many times with FC Barcelona, Olympiacos's Brazilian playmaker Rivaldo is under no illusions about the challenge ahead. "
I know exactly how difficult it is to beat Madrid from my time at Barcelona," he said. "Of course we have great respect for them – they are an incredible side with brilliant players – but that does not mean we are afraid of them. Under the circumstances, we would be happy to come away with a draw, but if the chance to steal a win arises, we will take it."
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