Udinese v Panathinaikos
Udinese coach Serse Cosmi is relishing his side’s first-ever Champions League match at home to Panathinaikos on Wednesday.
“It’s a very emotional time,” he said.
“I feel very proud. Just coming to the stadium and watching everything being set up, you get the feeling we are experiencing something extraordinary. We feel we’ve come very far and now we want to do well for everyone associated with the club.”
“I remember when I was a boy watching Internazionale and Milan and the contribution they made – a winning contribution – and I dreamt of being a player.
“Then, as time goes by, you moderate your expectations and hope to make it as a manager. I’ve worked my way up from the bottom and I hope other lower-league managers will see that we can make it to the highest level.”
Udinese have carried on from last season and following 1-0 wins against Empoli and Roma, they currently top Serie A.
Cosmi was giving nothing away about his formation to face the Greeks, although Davide Di Michele could make way for the more defence-minded Vidigal or Stefano Mauri.
One blow for Udinese is the loss of midfielder Giampiero Pinzi through injury, while defender Valerio Bertotto is a doubt.
Panathinaikos have a number of concerns with Emmanuel Olisadebe and Flavio Conceição both suspended, while Dimitrios Papoudopoulos and Srdjan Adri_ are out through injury.
Coach Alberto Malesani, hinted that a draw would be the limit of his team’s ambitions tonight.
“We must be very calm,” he said. “The group stage is like a mini championship so if things don’t go to plan in the first match there is still time to put them right. A point means you still have a very good chance of qualifying.”