FC Rubin Kazan visited the Acropolis this week but respect, not deference, will be the order of the day as they take on Panathinaikos FC with both sides looking to kick-start faltering campaigns.
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FC Rubin Kazan visited the Acropolis earlier this week but respect, not deference, will be the order of the day as they take on Panathinaikos FC. With just a point between them, the sides occupy the bottom two places in Group D and home coach Nikos Nioplias admits his team cannot to make any more mistakes as they look to kick-start their UEFA Champions League campaign.
Nikos Nioplias, Panathinaikos coach
It's not a final but it's certainly a very important game, as is every match in this competition. Even if you can't qualify for the last 16, playing in the Champions League is still a big thing. We've had a good run in the Greek league since we lost to København three weeks ago and in general have improved. But we must not forget the Champions League is played at a much higher level than the domestic league.
Rubin are a tough team and a rising power in Russian football. They play at a high level and I'm under the impression they want to do especially well in the Champions League because the Russian league title looks like going to Zenit. We can't afford to make mistakes because in these kind of matches they can prove costly.
Kurban Berdyev, Rubin coach
We don't fear any one player but we have to be very careful against a team like Panathinaikos. They are one of the grandest clubs in European football and they have lots of Champions League experience: We will be watching all their players, not just one or two of them. I'm not going to say how we intend to play but we will be going for a result. I decided to take my players on a trip to the Acropolis – we must pay our respects to the cradle of our civilisation.
Sotiris Ninis has been ruled out of the match with an unspecified leg issue. Giourkas Seitaridis was an unused substitute against PAOK FC at the weekend having recovered from a quadriceps problem, and Josu Sarriegi (ankle) returned but Sebástian Leto (knee) remains sidelined along with Antonis Petropoulos (groin), Cédric Kanté (right hand) and Sidney Govou (thigh).
Roman Sharonov is likely to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
16/10/10 Panathinaikos 1-0 PAOK FC
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos replaced Sebastian Leto in the only change to the side which beat Ergotelis FC 4-1 on 3 October. The game was played behind closed doors after crowd disturbances in the draw with FC Kavala on 18 September.
16/10/10 Rubin 2-1 FC Rostov
(Natcho 10, Martins 12; Pavlenko 4)
For the second successive match Rubin finished with ten men after Evgeni Balyaykin was dismissed with four minutes remaining. Rubin have won their last seven home league games and are unbeaten in the top flight in nine matches.
Did you know?
This is the first time Rubin have faced a team from Greece in European football. Panathinaikos have played only one Russian side, winning 2-0 at home to FC Lokomotiv Moskva in the UEFA Cup group stage in December 2007.
See the match background for more information