AEK playing catch-up in Piraeus

Greece's first big derby of the season takes place on Saturday when UEFA Champions League contenders Olympiacos CFP and AEK Athens FC meet in Piraeus.

Olympiacos edge
In this 48th league encounter between the teams, the champions have the edge, both historical and temporary. Olympiacos have won 23 times to AEK's 13 while Trond Sollied's men also boast a perfect start to the league campaign with four victories. AEK, by contrast, recorded their first success against Iraklis FC on Monday after three draws. Six points divide the sides already, yet AEK coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer is staying optimistic. "It is still early in the season and there are lots of matches, so we can recover the dropped points," he said. "With Olympiacos six points ahead, this is our chance to reduce the deficit. We know it will be a very difficult match, but every time we go out on the pitch we believe we can win."

Rivaldo threat
The coach, though, is wary of the threat of Olympiacos playmaker Rivaldo whom he knows well from their time together at FC Barcelona. "He can decide a match at any moment," he said. "Aside from his great ability, he plays an intense and clever game which is very difficult for opponents to deal with." Olympiacos boss Sollied, meanwhile, knows a victory would translate into a huge advantage for his team. "Three points won in a derby are a six-point blow for our rivals – three for us and minus three for them," he said. "If we win, it will also boost our confidence ahead of the UEFA Champions League tie against FC Shakhtar Donetsk. We are playing for a fifth win in the league and a sixth consecutive derby victory."

Rearguard injuries
Both coaches have their injury problems. Sollied will be without Michał Żewłakow and Didier Domi, while the Athens outfit have Traianos Dellas, Georgios Alexopoulos and Stavros Tziortziopoulos sidelined. Yet, as Sollied suggests, both clubs will be desperate to take an injection of confidence into their forthcoming UEFA Champions League assignments following Matchday 1 defeats – AEK losing 3-0 at AC Milan, and Olympiacos going down 4-2 at home to Valencia CF. The stage is set.