Deportivo have point to prove

RC Deportivo La Coruña are out to erase the memory of their 8-3 defeat in Monaco when they face AEK Athens FC.

'Highly motivated'
Despite conceding eight goals to the French side three weeks ago, Deportivo can secure their place in the knockout stages with victory if Monaco defeat PSV Eindhoven at the Stade Louis II - and coach Javier Irureta intends to make the task in hand clear to his players. "The message I want to give is that if we win we can qualify," he said.

Cool heads
"We know what is at stake, we could mathematically settle our qualification if we win - and we could also go top, so we are all highly motivated." Midfield player Sergio González seemed to have got the message when he said: "We have to go into the game with cool heads and concentrate on playing good football. That is the way to win."

Tsiartas danger
However, cool heads were absent when an 86th-minute leveller from Vassilios Tsiartas prevented Deportivo collecting all three points from the sides' meeting in Athens on Matchday 1 - and Irureta is wary of the threat Tsiartas, a former Sevilla FC player, and his colleagues pose. "AEK are made up of good players," the coach observed. "We all know Tsiartas from his time in Spain, but there are others, such as the two central midfielders and [Theodoris] Zagorakis."

Stalemate in Seville
Since losing in Monaco, Deportivo have claimed a win and a draw from their two last two league matches, including Saturday night's rain-soaked stalemate in Seville with Real Betis Balompié that left them second in the Primera División. Tsiartas hopes that latter match will have taken its toll on Deportivo. "I'm sure some players will pay for that, it didn't seem like a football game at all, it was more like water polo," he said. Mauro Silva, Juan Carlos Valerón and Víctor all suffered muscle strains that night but all are included in the squad.

Bajevic retains hope
AEK themselves have just one point from four matches so far and have only the faintest chance of claiming third place and a UEFA Cup spot. However, their form has improved in the Alpha Ethniki of late with three straight wins and coach Dusan Bajevic said: "We have a lot of reasons to win in La Coruna, first for our honour, secondly we want to continue playing in Europe and we want to qualify for the UEFA Cup and thirdly we have a lot of players from the Greek national side."

Back in blue
So two teams with something to prove. Irureta is so keen to banish thoughts of the defeat in Monaco that he has vowed never again to see his side play in the change kit they wore with such disastrous consequences. "I don't want to see the shirt we wore in Monaco again," he said. "I don't know whose idea it was to wear them in the first place." Back in blue on Tuesday, Irureta will expect better.