First knockout round – first leg
Chelsea coach Avram Grant is wary of the threat posed by Olympiakos and insists he respects the Greek side.
Grant, who again stressed his determination to reach this season’s final in Moscow, has the rare luxury of a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from.
“Make no mistake, not one player or single member of my staff thinks that this will be an easy game,” said Grant. “We have a lot of respect for Olympiajos. They have shown in their European matches that they can compete with the best teams. They didn’t lose to at home and should have won, while they also beat Werder Bremen and Lazio. We need to fully respect them.”
With influential players such as Michael Essien and Didier Drogba back from African Cup of Nations duty, and captain John Terry having returned for Saturday’s FA Cup victory against Huddersfield Town, Grant is enjoying the luxury of having a full squad to choose from.
“I think it’s great for me as a manager because it’s not so easy when you have important players missing,” he said. “I trusted my squad though, and the players who were available to me have kept us in all the competitions. It’s good for me as a coach and for the players to have competition for places. I don’t see the situation as a selection headache.”
Olympiakos coach Panagiotis Lemonis believes his side will respond positively to the pressure of facing one of the side’s expected to win this season’s competition.
“There is pressure and stress but this is good,” said the 48-year-old. “If pressure and anxiety are not there, then certain things which we need to happen won’t happen. As always our target is victory. My players have shown great form in Europe this season, and I expect to see this again on Tuesday.”
Midfielder Fernando Belluschi and striker Lomana LuaLua were both having fitness tests, after which Lemonis would foucs on trying to overcome an English side for the first time in the club’s history.
“Our extra motivation is that we want to break the trend of not having beaten an English team over two legs in Europe,” he said. “The key for us will be how our defence plays, although we are not just thinking about stopping them from scoring.”