Real Madrid may be without several key players for tonight’s Champions League game against Genk, but even a weakened Real side should be too strong forthe Belgian outfit. LSt week’s 3-0 away win in Roma confirmed what many had already suspected, namely that Real are again the team to beat this season.
Ronaldo is perhaps most notable absentee – the Brazilian, yet to play for Real had earmarked this fixture for his debut but a muscle strain has put paid to thiose hopes.
Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane is suffering from arthritis in his right knee and his international team-mate Claude Makelele is also suffering from a small ligament sprain in his left knee. Both are doubtful but with Real’s surplus of midfield talents, Real are notexactly down to the bare bones.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas looks likely to return as first-choice, C‚sar S nchez, has a problem with an injured finger on his right hand
Genk coach Sef Vergoosen approaches tonight’s match in confident mood. As he points out, his side have little to lose.
“I have slept well the last few nights,” he said. “My team is very calm. Ourjob will be complicated. We have nothing to lose and will play as we know.”
Cameroonian Justice Wamfor looks set to start thegame in midfield, while Moroccan left-sided midfield player Akran Rumani may be come in for Marco Ingrao, who played in last week’s goalless draw with AEK.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Salgado, Hierro, Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Figo, Cambiasso, Flavio, Solari; Guti, Raul.
Genk: Moons; Vanbeuren, Tomasic, Zokora, Ingrao; Beslija, Skoko, Euvrard, Daerden; Sonck, Dagano.
AEK Athens v Roma
AEK coach Dusan Bajevic has told his playersto forget about the troubles of opponents Roma and concentrate on gaining the club’s first UEFA Champions League win in eight years.
Roma have made a poor start to the season, league defeats by Bologna and Modena not to mention last week’s humbling 3-0 home loss against Real Madrid.
“We want to win, but it remains to be seen if Roma are in bad shape,”ÿsaid Bajevic.
Bajevic is hoping that goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis shakes off a leg injury sustained in Sunday’s league game against Xanthi FC, because his replacement, Elias Atmatsidis, is also rated doubtful. Definitely missing are defenders Vassilios Borbokis and Michel Kreek.
Roma meanwhile welcome back Gabriel Batistuta and Francisco Lima from suspension.
AEK defender Mihalis Kapsis is fully aware of the threat posed by Batistuta. “Hundreds of defenders much better than me have had the privilege of facing Batistuta and losing.”
Skipper Francesco Totti will complete his two-match ban, while Roma will also miss five injured players: Aldair, Dellas, Delvecchio, Fuser and Guigou. H
: Antonioli; Zebina, Samuel, Panucci; Cafu, Tommasi, Emerson, Lima, Candela; Cassano, Batistuta
AEK: Hiotis; Kostenoglou, Kapsis, Wright, Kasapis; Zagorakis, Katsouranis, Petkov, Tsartas; Nikolaidis, Ivic.