Greeks ready for French test

OLYMPIACOS striker Jaouad Zairi is adamant Bordeaux will put their recent struggles behind them and pose a significant threat in tonight’s Champions League encounter.

Les Girondins have not looked at their formidable best in recent games although they still lead the way in the Ligue 1 table.

And they can at least point to wins in their last two games as evidence they are back on track. Neither the defeat of St Etienne, nor the win against a Lorient side down to 10 men for three-quarters of the game were convincing, however, results which came after losses to Monaco and Rennes.

The wobble has led to speculation in France that Laurent Blanc’s men’s air of invincibility has evaporated but Zairi is not convinced ahead of the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The former Sochaux and Nantes forward said: “Bordeaux have no reason to worry. They have a quality squad with a great coach.

“Laurent Blanc is very influential and he can achieve a lot. We are doing a lot of video analysis on Bordeaux but first we are concentrating on our own game.”

Having home advantage could be significant with the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens renowned for its atmosphere.

“The crowd is like our 12th man. They can turn the game around for us. The atmosphere is very impressive,” said Zairi.

Olympiacos’ Serbian coach Bozidar Bantovic, who took over following the departure of Brazil legend Zico last month, is expected to be without Diogo and Luciano Galletti but fellow South American, midfielder Dudu, could return from injury.

Les Girondins were drawn alongside European giants Juventus and Bayern Munich, as well as Maccabi Haifa, in Group A and were expected to fight it out for third spot and a place in the Europa League with the Israelis.

But Blanc’s men defied the odds by finishing top with five wins and a draw from their six games.

Olympiacos drew 1-1 at Ergotelis on Saturday while Bordeaux were handed the weekend off by Ligue 1 authorities to give them more time to prepare for the trip east.


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