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Thursday, February 17, 2005 

Olympiacos - Sochaux (Uefa Cup Preview)

Greek league leaders Olympiacos CFP are without five key players as they put their perfect European home record in 2004/05 on the line against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in their UEFA Cup Round of 32 encounter.

Absent quartet
Not only are regular centre-backs Gabriel Schürrer and Georgios Anatolakis suspended following Olympiacos's UEFA Champions League exit at Liverpool FC, but left-back Stylianos Venetidis and winger Georgios Georgiadis are out for the season with knee ligament damage and striker Giovanni is absent after unscheduled dental surgery.

Team changes
Home coach Dušan Bajevic will play Athanasios Kostoulas and Spyridon Vallas in central defence, while Grigorios Georgatos and Anastasios Pantos compete for the Venetidis role. Meanwhile, Miloš Maric should start on the right of midfield with Rivaldo and Ioannis Okkas leading the line.

Winning tactic
Bajevic said: "We must try to avoid conceding a goal. I think we can win, but that will take patience and discipline." For this first-leg tie, fans will be readmitted to the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, from which supporters are currently serving a four-match domestic ban.

Intimidating atmosphere
Sochaux coach Guy Lacombe admits the atmosphere will be intimidating. "We have spoken a lot about this with the players," he said. "If we let the venue and the crowd affect us, we will have no chance."

Menez chance
Midfielder Wilson Oruma and defender Ibrahim Tall are injured, while striker Ilan has failed to overcome a groin problem. With fellow forward Jaouad Zairi involved in a car crash on Tuesday, 17-year-old Jérémy Menez, freshly returned from the UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup in Turkey, could step in.

Sochaux spirit
Defender Sylvain Monsoreau hopes to take inspiration from the 6-2 aggregate win against BV Borussia Dortmund in the second round last season. "We will have to recapture the spirit we had when we edged out Dortmund," he said.

Source: Uefa.com


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