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Barça set Panathinaikos trap

Published: Wednesday 2 November 2005, 16.18CET
Alberto Malesani claims "it would be no miracle" if Panathinaikos FC won at Camp Nou - but FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has different ideas.
by Lucas Brown
from Barcelona
Barça set Panathinaikos trap
Frank Rijkaard aims to bring Panathinaikos out to play Action Images

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Published: Wednesday 2 November 2005, 16.18CET

Barça set Panathinaikos trap

Alberto Malesani claims "it would be no miracle" if Panathinaikos FC won at Camp Nou - but FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has different ideas.

Frank Rijkaard believes an early goal for FC Barcelona would force Panathinaikos FC to open up and allow his side space to create more chances, while Ronaldinho has put all thoughts of personal awards to the back of his mind as he concentrates on helping his team qualify for the next stage of the UEFA Champions League.

Tight affair
The first Group C game between these sides was a tight, goalless affair with the home defence standing firm against Barça's three-pronged attack. Rijkaard now hopes the Spanish champions can take their impressive league form into Wednesday's second encounter at Camp Nou and make Panathinaikos push forward by scoring in the first few minutes. "We must show our quality from the start and try to score as soon as possible to open up the game and make it easier to create chances," said the Dutchman.

'Important step'
Rijkaard knows victory against the Greek outfit would see Barcelona take a giant stride towards the knockout rounds, but understands that his team will have to work hard to break down their opponents. "If we win then it would be an important step for us and for our future in this important competition," he continued. "Panathinaikos have a very well-organised defence. They have some very interesting players. We must maintain the rhythm we have been playing in these last few matches."

Márquez returns
The 18-year-old Lionel Messi will feature and could start on the right wing after it was announced the Barça coach has continued his rotation policy and opted to rest Ludovic Giuly and Maxi López. Rafael Márquez is back after missing Sunday's 5-0 victory against Real Sociedad de Fútbol to fly back to his native Mexico and attend to a personal matter. Deco and Juliano Belletti are still recovering from thigh and knee injuries.

Team first
Ronaldinho has just one thing on his mind despite being touted as one of the favourites to win the Ballon D'Or, as the Brazilian aims to help Barcelona win Group C. "I am not thinking about awards," he said. "I am only thinking about the team, if other things happen then that's great. But the better the team plays, the more chance that other things will happen. It is very important that we qualify as quickly as possible and we have to maintain the way we have been playing recently."

'No miracle'
Alberto Malesani is adamant his Panathinaikos side have a chance of trumping the Blaugrana on their own ground - and thinks that if that does happen, it should not be considered an upset. "It would not be a miracle," he said. "We have to commit as few errors as we can and defend strongly and attack with intelligence. Barcelona are one of the most powerful teams in Europe, but we will go out with a winning mentality and with great ambition. If we lose then it would not be a problem because this is a mini-league and there would still be time to recover."

Mantzios doubt
The visitors' leading goalscorer, Evagelos Mantzios, could miss out through injury while Emmanuel Olisadebe and Ioannis Goumas are both sidelined. Hungarian striker Sándor Torghelle and midfielder Igor Bišcan - a UEFA Champions League winner with Liverpool FC - are recalled to the squad after sitting out Sunday's 1-0 Alpha Ethniki defeat of PAOK FC, Mantzios scoring the winner.

Last updated: 02/11/15 10.34CET