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Katsouranis tells Panathinaikos to shackle Barça

Kostas Katsouranis wants Panathinaikos FC to be "far more aggressive" in defence against FC Barcelona as they bid to turn over a new leaf in their first game under Jesualdo Ferreira.

Kostas Katsouranis will not let Barcelona walk all over his side in Athens
Kostas Katsouranis will not let Barcelona walk all over his side in Athens ©Getty Images

Kostas Katsouranis said he wants Panathinaikos FC to show a little more backbone in their Group D home game against FC Barcelona after being beaten 5-1 when the sides met at Camp Nou on Matchday 1.

Having led early on through Sidney Govou, the Greens were pulled apart in Spain, leaving Katsouranis rueful. "If I could change one thing from that first match it's the way we defended," said the 31-year-old. "We have to be far more aggressive in the way we defend and not allow them the time and space to do what we know they are capable of."

That opening result set a grim tone for their Group D campaign. FC København promptly beat them 2-0 at home, before back-to-back goalless draws against FC Rubin Kazan left Panathinaikos at the foot of the section. Inconsistent domestic results helped to hurry the departure of coach Nikos Nioplias in the run-up to Matchday 5.

However, a positive outcome against a side of Barcelona's calibre could yet instigate a revival. "Really, we have nothing to lose and it's a great chance for us to achieve something spectacular if we get a result against them, one of the greatest teams in the world," said Greece midfielder Katsouranis. "Realistically, our target now is the UEFA Europa League, even though it is still possible for us to get to the knockout stage. We have to get maximum points in the remaining games."

Two wins could keep last season's Greek double winners in UEFA Champions League contention, but Katsouranis was not looking beyond the Barcelona game. "We must be disciplined, deny them space to play their game and take the chances that come our way," explained the UEFA EURO 2004 winner. "That is the only way."

The arrival of new coach Jesualdo Ferreira – who was in charge of FC Porto while Katsouranis was at SL Benfica, from 2006 to 2009 – may be crucial in giving Panathinaikos a pre-match lift. "He's only been with us for two days and that's a very short period," admitted Katsouranis, "but the arrival of a new coach usually pushes the team in a positive direction."

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