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St Etienne could be caught in Olympiacos surge

Published: Wednesday 18 February 2009, 4.30CET
Their domestic situations could hardly be more different, but when runaway Greek Super League leaders Olympiacos CFP play host to French Ligue 1 strugglers AS Saint-Etienne they will not be taking matters lightly.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou & Christian Châtelet
St Etienne could be caught in Olympiacos surge
Ernesto Valverde is eyeing further improvement from his side ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

OlympiacosSt-Etienne

Goals scored18
 
20
Attempts on target28
 
50
Attempts off target19
 
32
Corners22
 
27
Offsides10
 
27
Fouls committed78
 
89
Yellow cards25
 
16
Red cards1
 
0

Media Services

Standings

 
Published: Wednesday 18 February 2009, 4.30CET

St Etienne could be caught in Olympiacos surge

Their domestic situations could hardly be more different, but when runaway Greek Super League leaders Olympiacos CFP play host to French Ligue 1 strugglers AS Saint-Etienne they will not be taking matters lightly.

Their domestic situations could hardly be more different, but when runaway Greek Super League leaders Olympiacos CFP play French Ligue 1 strugglers AS Saint-Etienne in Athens on Wednesday they will not be taking matters lightly.

Demanding
A 2-1 home win against Aris Thessaloniki FC on Saturday underlined Olympiacos's local supremacy. It was their 16th victory in as many matches this season at their Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, spanning all competitions, and it left Ernesto Valverde's side 14 points clear in the table and on course for a 13th league title in 14 years. Not that Valverde is completely satisfied. "We should be able to settle matches when we are ahead and in control," said the Spaniard. "We should improve our finishing, because we risk conceding goals on the break and complicating things for ourselves."

Successful foundations
Aside from a UEFA Champions League qualifying defeat by Anorthosis Famagusta FC in August, there has been little complicated about Olympiacos's progress this term, especially at home. Valverde's men have scored 14 goals in three UEFA Cup games in Athens, although to continue that form and earn a sizeable first-leg advantage against St Etienne they will likely have to do so without the injured Sebastian Leto. Predrag Djordjević could switch to the left wing as cover, yet holding midfielder Dudu believes the team's strength lies at the other end of the pitch. "Our defence is the basis of our success," he said. "It gives us the confidence to charge forward and explains our perfect home record this season."

League travails
In Efstathios Tavlaridis, St Etienne have a Greek central defender of their own. He was forced to sit out Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain FC, which caused Les Verts to slip to 17th in Ligue 1, but could return alongside Sylvain Monsoreau and David Sauget. Loïc Perrin and Christophe Landrin are both ruled out. The visitors are hopeful, though, that as in the group stage, they can find inspiration in the UEFA Cup. "Our main concern is obviously the league situation," said coach Alain Perrin, "but we'll do our best to emulate what we did in the autum. We face tough opponents who are on a roll in their domestic competition – in fact, they have such a big lead in the league that they can focus on the UEFA Cup. That's what worries me."

Last updated: 18/02/09 20.39CET

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