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Lemonis aims to stall Madrid advance

Olympiacos CFP coach Panagiotis Lemonis has called on his players to summon the character they displayed two weeks ago when they welcome Real Madrid CF.

Olympiacos CFP coach Panagiotis Lemonis has called on his players to summon the character and spirit they displayed two weeks ago in Spain when they face Real Madrid CF in Athens on Tuesday.

Absorbing encounter
Group C leaders Madrid were given a scare by Olympiacos before coming from behind to win 4-2 on Matchday 3 – this despite the visitors playing with ten men following Vassilis Torosidis's early dismissal. With Olympiacos still second in the section, Lemonis wants his players to emulate their efforts at the Santiago Bernabéu. "I would like my players to try and keep the passion they showed in Madrid and the character that saw them look the Real players in the eyes, even with ten men," said the 47-year-old, whose side beat PAOK FC 2-1 at the weekend. "What we have to do is go out on to that pitch and give our best for as long as possible."

For so long a soft touch away from home, Olympiacos appear to have turned a corner following their victory against Werder Bremen in Germany on Matchday 2 and the gutsy performance in the Spanish capital three weeks later. Lemonis certainly senses that times are changing. "There's something happening that shows that things are in transition at this club and I hope the signal is coming from the attitude of my players," he said.

Injured trio
The hosts, who are three points behind Madrid, are without the suspended Torosidis on Tuesday as well as injured trio Cristián Raúl Ledesma, Paraskevas Antzas and Didier Domi. But Lemonis refuses to dwell on his absentees, saying: "We want to have all our players available always, but this doesn't happen at any club. We can't cry about absences. There are important players missing but we have others who can take their place."

'Important game'
Yet if Olympiacos are buoyant, Madrid go into the match on the back of Saturday's demoralising 2-0 defeat at Sevilla FC, where they played the last 39 minutes without the red-carded Sergio Ramos. "We must forget about the game against Sevilla," said coach Bernd Schuster. "We have a very important match and we know it's going to be difficult. We are fully focused on winning because we want to secure qualification as soon as possible so I can then rest players and use my full squad."

Metzelder rested
Schuster, who is deprived of the injured Guti, has revealed that Christoph Metzelder will also sit out the Piraeus outing, with Gabriel Heinze the man most likely to replace him. "We will rest Metzelder because he has played a lot of matches for us already," said the German. "We have ready replacements in Heinze and Pepe, and we will still put out the best possible Real Madrid team. Olympiacos are a side with a strong character and support. They have some very good players such as Luciano Galletti, Darko Kovačević and Raúl Bravo. But our mentality is very good, we've worked very hard in training and we feel well equipped for this game."