Rosenborg v Panathinaikos
Anything but a win for Rosenborg tonight will see their European campaign draw to a close.
Panathinaikos though, full of confidence on the back of two draws with English champions Arsenal, will be looking for three points to take them into second place in the table.
Rosenborg secured an amazing 13th consecutive domestic title last month but have not won a Champions League fixture since October 2001 when they beat Celtic 2-0. Moreover, they have a new coach taking charge of his first game in this competition.
Per Joar Hansen, who replaced Ola By Rise last month, is confident of lifting his team off the bottom of the group.
He said: “We are not just motivated, we are hungry for success. The players, myself and the whole club are looking forward to a victory. Now we have to get three points. Perhaps even four, we still have two matches to play.”
Hansen believes Panathinaikos could be Rosenborg’s first victims in 12 group-stage attempts.
“We are difficult to beat at home,” he said, pointing to a single defeat from Rosenborg’s past five matches at the Lerkendal stadium.
But Hansen does not think freezing weather conditions favour his side.
“Rosenborg’s winter advantage is a myth,” he said.
“We know that Panathinaikos are a good team and we just hope they allow us to play our own way. We can beat anyone at Lerkendal.”
Rosenborg’s hopes have been lifted by the return to fitness of their midfield player Jan Gunnar Solli after a leg injury, leaving only Orjan Berg (knee injury) and Christer Basma (heel) still out.
Panathinaikos, who defeated Rosenborg 2-1 in their first group match, come into the game full of confidence. They are top of the Greek league after overcoming Kallithea 1-0 on Saturday.
Marcus Münch (knee) and Dimitrios Papadopoulos (ankle) are the only injury doubts concerning their coach Zdenek Scasny.
Scasny’s major concern in Trondheim is the weather and he believes freezing temperatures would be a major factor.
“The pitch has a hard surface but is soft underneath,” Scasny said. “The freezing temperature is not an advantage for us, Rosenborg are used to such conditions. It is rare for us to play football while it is snowing.”
However, weather reports indicate the cold snap is about to break and rain, not snow, may be the order of the day in Norway.
Either way, Scasny is optimistic his side can collect at least one more important point on their travels. “It is going to be a 50-50 match,” he said.
“I just hope we can play as well as we did [against Arsenal] at Highbury.”