Olympiakos welcome Valencia to the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium full of optimism.
“Our group is very open, all the teams can beat each other, so I have told the players we can win this group but we can also finish bottom,” said coach Trond Sollied.
“Our advantage this year is that we are better prepared physically and mentally. We hope this will bring positive results.”
Sollied is well aware of the threat posed by Quique Sánchez Flores’s Valencia.
“Valencia are a Champions League team and are one of the top three or four sides in Spain,” added Sollied.
“They are also one of the best collective teams. We play very collectively as well so it will be an interesting match.”
Sollied believes his team have improved this year.
“We have changed faces in our defence but, more importantly, we have changed as a unit and are better at defending as a team,” he said.
The Greek side welcome back Rivaldo from a knee injury and the Brazilian should start tonight.
Valencia travel with a lengthy injury list. Skipper David Albelda is out after breaking his cheekbone on international duty. Winger Joaquín Sánchez serves a suspension earned with Real Betis last season, while midfielder Rubén Baraja and defender Asier del Horno are both injured.
Nonetheless, coach Sánchez Flores is unconcerned, explaining that his team will be looking for a win tonight.
“The good thing is, we play as a team and have a spirit which makes us go into every game thinking we are going to war,” he said.
“Your target should always be victory and we will play to win. Our league results have been good and we will try to continue this positive run. Our target is to do well in the Champions League and everyone at the club expects success this season.”
“It’s important for us to qualify without believing we are favourites and we should not underestimate our opponents. Olympiakos have tradition, experience and quality, as well as excellent players such as Rivaldo, Predrag Djordjevic, Nery Alberto Castillo and Yiannis Okkas.”
Antonios Nikopolidis; Abdeslam Ouaddou, Didier Domi, Georgios Anatolakis, Micha_ _ew_akow; Ieroklis Stoltidis, Pantelis Kafes, Rivaldo, Predrag Djordjevi_; Nery Alberto Castillo; Michalis Konstantinou.
Santiago Cañizares; Luís Miguel, Roberto Ayala, Carlos Marchena, Emiliano Moretti; Vicente Rodríguez, Raúl Albiol, Edu, Miguel Ángel Angulo; Fernando Morientes, David Villa.