Coach Panagiotis Lemonis says Olympiacos CFP will "fight like madmen" to beat Werder Bremen and reach the knockout stage for the first time in nine attempts.
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Olympiacos CFP coach Panagiotis Lemonis will urge his players to stick to their attacking philosophy and play to win against Werder Bremen as the Group C rivals prepare for Tuesday's vital showdown in Athens.
Play to win
The Greek champions need a point from their final group match to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time since the 1998/99 season when they were eliminated by Juventus in the quarter-finals. But Lemonis, whose team are in fine goalscoring form having beaten Levadiakos FC 4-0 in the Greek Super League on Saturday, says it would be foolhardy to play for a draw.
"We should not change anything from what our team have shown so far in this campaign," said the 47-year-old. "We should go for the win. We need to approach the game in this way. It is very dangerous if you start to think about playing for a draw. We are building a whole team philosophy here and it would be a mistake to change tactics."
'Fight like madmen'
Olympiacos, who will play their 100th European Cup match tonight, are second in the section, level on eight points with leaders Real Madrid CF, with Bremen two points behind in third. Expectations are sky-high among the club's fanatical supporters, and Lemonis assures them the Red and Whites will be going all out to reach the knockout rounds. "I do not know what the result will be, but I am sure we will fight and battle like madmen," said Lemonis. "This game is logically considered a final, with the prize at stake being a place in the next phase of the UEFA Champions League." Lemonis will be without captain Predrag Djordjević, who is suspended, and is sweating on the fitness of utility man Christos Patsatzoglou. While refusing to specify about his team selection, he has hinted that defender Michał Żewłakow could be fit to start.
Point to prove
Bremen, meanwhile, have to win to qualify and coach Thomas Schaaf says he expects his players to atone for the 3-1 home defeat they suffered at the hands of Olympiacos on Matchday 2. "It's not about revenge," said Schaaf. "I want to see my players play good football and get a good result. We played very well [against Olympiacos] but luck was not on our side that night. Now we have an opportunity to put that right and to get the right result. There is no extra pressure because every game in the UEFA Champions League is tough."
The Bundesliga outfit were unbeaten in ten league matches before Saturday's 4-3 reverse at Hannover 96, and Schaaf admits they must learn from that loss. "The basic thing for us is to cut out the simple mistakes," he said. "We made too many of those [against Hannover] and we must be fully concentrated from the first minute and have a tight defensive line. The players are feeling better, we know what we have to do and we are well prepared." Schaaf has no major injury worries with only full-back Petri Pasanen struggling with a virus. Playmaker Diego is available after serving a one-match suspension against Madrid on Matchday 5.