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Zairi striving for higher Standard

Published: Tuesday 20 October 2009, 8.52CET
Olympiacos FC winger Jaouad Zairi may be sampling the UEFA Champions League atmosphere for the first time this season, but his form suggests R. Standard de Liège should take him seriously.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Zairi striving for higher Standard
Jaouad Zairi (left) insists Olympiacos have improved under Zico's tutelage ©AFP

Tournament statistics

OlympiacosStandard

Goals scored5
 
7
Attempts on target35
 
24
Attempts off target42
 
22
Corners42
 
26
Offsides15
 
11
Fouls committed112
 
94
Yellow cards18
 
13
Red cards2
 
1
 
Published: Tuesday 20 October 2009, 8.52CET

Zairi striving for higher Standard

Olympiacos FC winger Jaouad Zairi may be sampling the UEFA Champions League atmosphere for the first time this season, but his form suggests R. Standard de Liège should take him seriously.

Olympiacos FC winger Jaouad Zairi is one of a number of players to taste the UEFA Champions League atmosphere for the first time this season, but his recent form suggests R. Standard de Liège should take the winger's threat seriously.

'Beautiful football'
Following an impressive goal and man-of-the-match performance as Olympiacos beat his former side Asteras Tripolis FC 3-0 on Saturday, the 27-year-old is eager to transfer his form to the European stage. With two points cushioning the second-placed Greek champions from their Belgian equivalents in Group H, the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Tuesday would be the perfect setting. "The goal I scored on Saturday certainly helped my self-confidence," said the Moroccan international. "I feel great and I am really looking forward to the encounter against Standard. Saturday's league encounter was very important for us and we're glad that we won by producing beautiful football. However, tomorrow it will be another match entirely.

Improvement demanded
"Our motivation is high and we need to do well against Standard and prove to ourselves and our fans that we are continuously improving," added the midfielder, who admits that he is unfamiliar with Standard's players. "I know they have some very good individuals, quality players. If we manage to prevent them from taking control of the encounter, we will be on the right track."

Zico impact
Olympiacos started their season with positive results but poor performances and that led to the sacking of coach Temuri Ketsbaia a day before their UEFA Champions League opener against AZ Alkmaar, with Zico being appointment in his place. Their displays have picked up since then and Zairi believes the new coach has immediately gelled with the players, stating: "It's a fact that we feel really good with Zico in command. He is teaching us a lot, he helps us considerably, talks to us and is trying to pass on some of his vast experience to us. We are eager to listen to him and bring his instructions into play, because we see that we benefit from that."

Fitness improved
One way in which they have benefited has been in terms of fitness, with Zairi keen to underline that the players are in far better shape than before. "The extra training work we did for a fortnight during the league break is showing now," he said. "We are feeling better, our physical condition has definitely improved and that helps us to produce more free-flowing, attacking football."

Last updated: 20/10/09 22.27CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000028/match=2000411/prematch/focus/index.html#zairi+striving+higher+standard

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