Panathinaikos coach Alberto Malesani says his side will not be intimidated by Barcelona’s Ronaldinho in tonight’s Group C encounter at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium.
“We must be ourselves and not think of them as individuals but as a team,” Malesani said. “We’re playing against Barça the team, not Ronaldinho.”
Malesani will take inspiration from his side’s victory over Akratitos on Saturday.
“We played well against Akratitos for the full 90 minutes, we want the same tomorrow,” he said. “We are ready, especially on the psychological front, perhaps too ready.”
Malesani may well keep faith with Saturday’s team. That would mean Papadopoulos staying on the bench as Malesani opts for forwards Theofanis Gekas and Evagelos Mantzios.
Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was not prepared to drop any hints about his line-up but he did draw attention to his side’s strength down the left flank.
“Sylvinho and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are both effective on the left,” the Dutchman said. “I hope they can be tomorrow.”
Rijkaard has plenty of respect for the Greek side.
“Panathinaikos played well against Bremen and have been playing well in the league,” he added.
“They are a well-tuned team and will be difficult to beat.”