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Nioplias sets standards for Greens

Published: Wednesday 10 March 2010, 20.59CET
Panathinaikos FC's Nikos Nioplias believes the UEFA Europa League tie against R. Standard de Liège "could go either way" but his charges can take belief from a fine run of form under the coach.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Nioplias sets standards for Greens
Djibril Cissé and Sotiris Ninis combined to shoot down Roma ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

PanathinaikosStandard

Goals scored14
 
9
Attempts on target121
 
65
Attempts off target0
 
0
Corners62
 
24
Offsides47
 
13
Fouls committed112
 
98
Yellow cards27
 
19
Red cards2
 
0

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Standings

 
Published: Wednesday 10 March 2010, 20.59CET

Nioplias sets standards for Greens

Panathinaikos FC's Nikos Nioplias believes the UEFA Europa League tie against R. Standard de Liège "could go either way" but his charges can take belief from a fine run of form under the coach.

He may be inexperienced as a coach at club level but Nikos Nioplias will hope his "winning mentality" rubs off on his Panathinaikos FC players in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against R. Standard de Liège.

Appointed in December, Nioplias has overseen 13 wins in 17 games including successive 3-2 victories against AS Roma in the previous round. "People said I lacked experienced; I have tonnes of experience where football is concerned," he said. "I played in a World Cup, a European Under-21 final and was captain of OFI Crete for years. I'm a strong character with a winning mentality."

Turning his attention to Thursday's first leg against Standard, he added: "They've been the strongest team in Belgium in recent years and the tie could go either way. I watched them in the previous round and they were mediocre in the first leg against Salzburg and very good in the second. They like to play attacking football but it's imperative to keep a clean sheet at home and take charge of the tie."

The 45-year-old has promised changes to the side that beat Levadiakos FC 3-0 on Sunday, including a potential return for teenager Sotiris Ninis – superb against Roma – after a hamstring strain. Giourkas Seitaridis has an achilles injury, goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas is ill and Kostas Katsouranis suspended, as is Sebastien Pocognoli for Standard. The Reds have passed Dieudonné Mbokani and goalkeeper Sinan Bolat fit but travelled without Gohi Bi Cyriac and Felipe.

Standard met Olympiacos FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage under former coach László Bölöni, losing away before winning at home, and current incumbent Domenico D'Onofrio believes Panathinaikos are "superior". "They have lots of individual talent, are very strong in attack and score freely – as they showed against Roma," said the 56-year-old, whose side sit seventh in the First League, 25 points off the summit. "For us, European matches are a bonus. Our main goal is to be organised and be able to play our attacking game."

Last updated: 11/03/10 14.00CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000039/match=2000943/prematch/preview/index.html#nioplias+setting+standards

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