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Grant warns of Olympiacos menace

Chelsea FC coach Avram Grant is wary of the threat posed by Olympiacos CFP and says "full respect" must be paid to Greece's UEFA Champions League hopeful.

The Chelsea FC coach Avram Grant is wary of the threat posed by Olympiacos CFP and insists "full respect" must be paid to the Greek side if the visitors are to overcome the UEFA Champions League outsiders on Tuesday.

Moscow final
The quadruple-chasing Blues are in Athens for the first leg of their first knockout tie and expect a stern examination from Panagiotis Lemonis's team, who surprised many by qualifying from the group stage – ahead of Werder Bremen and S.S. Lazio – for the first time in nine years. Grant, who again underlined his determination to reach this season's final in Moscow, has the luxury of a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from, against opponents who have never defeated an English club in a two-legged European tie.

Cautious mood
Nonetheless, the Israeli was in a cautious mood on the eve of the match. "Make no mistake, not one player or single member of my staff thinks that this will be an easy game," said Grant. "We have a lot of respect for Olympiacos. They have shown in their European matches that they can compete with the best teams. They didn't lose to Real [Madrid CF] at home and should have won, while they also beat Werder Bremen and Lazio. We need to fully respect them."

Terry return
With influential players such as Michael Essien and Didier Drogba back from African Cup of Nations duty, and captain John Terry having returned for Saturday's FA Cup victory against Huddersfield Town AFC, Grant is relishing picking his starting XI. "I think it's great for me as a manager because it's not so easy when you have important players missing," he said. "I trusted my squad though, and the players who were available to me have kept us in all the competitions. It's good for me as a coach and for the players to have competition for places. I don't see the situation as a selection headache."

'Great form'
Home coach Lemonis underlined the positive side of the pressure which the Greek league leaders face going into this game – as well as his desire to see Olympiacos produce their best against Chelsea. "There is pressure and stress but this is good," said the 48-year-old. "If pressure and anxiety are not there, then certain things which we need to happen won't happen. As always our target is victory. My players have shown great form in Europe this season, and I expect to see this again on Tuesday."

'Extra motivation'
Midfielder Fernando Belluschi and former Portsmouth FC and Newcastle United FC striker Lomana LuaLua were both having fitness tests on Monday, after which Lemonis would turn his attention towards ending a dismal record against Premier League opposition which reads ten defeats in 14 matches: "Our extra motivation is that we want to break the trend of not having beaten an English team over two legs in Europe. The key for us will be how our defence plays, although we are not just thinking about stopping them from scoring." With Olympiacos unbeaten since November, Lemonis will hope form rather than history proves decisive this time around.