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Having played his part in Real Madrid CF's UEFA Champions League win in 2001/02, Raúl Bravo hopes to contribute to another "historic" and "incredible" achievement by helping Olympiacos FC reach the knockout phase this term.
Under the stewardship of Brazilian coach Zico since Temuri Ketsbaia's departure prior to Matchday 1, the Athens club sit second in their section, two points clear of third-placed R. Standard de Liège and a further two ahead of AZ Alkmaar. The Belgian champions kept themselves in contention thanks to a 2-0 victory over Olympiacos on Matchday 4, but Raúl Bravo is confident that his side can accrue enough points against AZ and Arsenal FC on Matchdays 5 and 6 to progress to the last 16.
"I think we were sitting pretty in the group until we played Standard in Belgium and lost," said the former Spanish international, who collected 14 caps. "Had we won there, life would have been easy because we'd have automatically gone through to the next round. It's disappointing because qualifying would be something historic for a club like Olympiacos – something incredible. Normally you see clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and so on in the next round. We won at home to AZ, so we know that we can win in the Netherlands too, but defeat is a possibility as well because that's football."
Even if such a reverse did transpire, Olympiacos would still be able to progress with the right result in their group denouement against Arsenal at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on 9 December. "The Champions League is special because it gives us ties like that," added Raúl Bravo. "Greek football can't compare with the Spanish or English leagues – fewer stars, not quite such good football and it's tough, but the Champions League really gives us life. We can show ourselves off to the best teams in Europe, give pride to those who follow us and let the rest of the world know that football is being played here too."
Olympiacos certainly have a man with impressive pedigree to help them do just that. "I started at Madrid, I played with the best," continued Raúl Bravo, who made three appearances as Los Merengues conquered Europe in 2001/02. "It was the time of Zinédine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Roberto Carlos, Raúl [González]. That was a very good era and you obviously learn a lot from them. During every training session I soaked up a lot. Everything I am today is thanks to Real Madrid."
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