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Barca v. Panathinaikos


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Group stage - 14/09/2010 - 20:45CET (20:45 local time) - Camp Nou - Barcelona

Well, gents, this is a big test for us. I would preferred to play a team like Barca later when our club would be more ready, but here it is....

The good news is that Barca isn't at peak either. They lost to Hercules 0-2 at home this week. If we manage to get points out of this, it'll be great. If we don't, it won't be a disaster. There are other must-win games but this isn't one.

The bad news is that PAO has lost 10 of the last 11 games in Spain :( This isn't a friendly country for us, but someday it'll change.

Your comments?....

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apparently the team will look something like this..






i would have thought simao would have played in this one...his hard work and raw tackling is needed in the midfield...nioplias is seeming to try and play more tactical and pressure game with the flat three in the middle containing and not giving barca space to operate...im sure we will see leto and govou play very wide, coming back to help...

i dont think we will go out and out defense, i think nioplias knows that is not wise...it will be extremely difficult for us to get a positive result, but alot of our players have big game expereince and if we work as a unit, get some luck, we can hope for the best...hopefully pao continues to impress in the CL where even our teams in the past that have been alot worst have done well...we will need to play a near perfect game to get out of this one with any sort of points...its unlikely, but i have faith in our european pao...as long as the players go out there and fight hard for the trifilli, i will be happy...so lets enjoy this one

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Euro, you are depressing me man :)

The truth is, this is one of these games that even if we do lose we don't lose much (unless your prediction for a thrashing comes true). All we have to do is to manage a respectable performance and we'll be fine.

Barcelona is a fantastic team and on their day even some of the best teams in the world don't have a chance. But we can't go to sing our own epitaph. We will fight and we have to believe that we can get a good result. We've done some amazing things in Europe before. No one believed we would win in Inter (except me :P ) or in Roma.

If any PAO team can do it, it's this one. We have at least four players who have tons of experience on huge games (Gilberto, Cisse, Govou, Boumsong) and even some of our own have played at top level with both our and the national teams (Karagounis, Katsouranis, Seitaridis).

Let's believe and let's enjoy the game.

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Cyber I have to disagree :( This PAO team is not equipped to compete with a team like Barca on a big and slick pitch and although I predict 4-0 I really wouldn't be surprised to see them score 5+. They lost to Hercules at the weekend, and while I hope that's a sign that a Hellenic team will beat them on Tuesday :whistle: the reality is I expect a big backlash.

The only teams that have stunted Barca in recent seasons are teams of extraordinary defensive organisation: Chelsea, Inter (under Mourinho were great defensively), and Rubin (yes they are great defensively, we'll experience that soon too!). Any attacking team, even one with great pace and counter attacking skills have been consistently torn apart:

Barca 4-1 Arsenal

Barca 5-2 Atletico Madrid

Barca 4-0 Sevilla (twice!)

Now those opponents are better than us but their style isn't too disimilar and they were all dismantled. Not only are we too weak defensively but we are tailor made for them. On top of that, the ONLY hope we'd have would be to deploy a man marker on 2 players. Messi and Xavi. Nobody ever thinks to mark Xavi but he is their main man. He makes them tick. He was out against Hercules and I think he's back against us. So ideally i'd have liked to have seen a 5-4-1 with Vintra marking Messi and Simao on Xavi. Unfortunately with the line up that pao123 posted we're allowing Messi to run at a vulnerable back 2, while Katsouranis is way too lazy to do the necessary tracking back or a man marking job on anyone, let alone Xavi. We will get torn apart. Rubin are much more likely to upset them for the 2nd time. Rubin struggle to get goals but defensively they are superb. That's what you need against Barca. So I'm sorry to say, I'm really not looking forward to this :(

The other thing we MUST do is keep it narrow. Don't let them play through us. That can cause problems too because Iniesta and Danny Alves will happily cross from the edge of the area rather than the side-line, but Boumsong should have the beating of all the Barca front men aerially. As good as Barca are they do lack an aerial presence. That's why they bought Ibra last year. He flopped and instead of buying someone that had an aerial ability they bought Villa. Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying that he isn't great. He's probably the best striker in the world, but look at their attacking players now: Villa, Messi, Iniesta, Bojan, Pedro. They are all very small and they should have also gone for a tall, bench striker for some variety. Chelsea killed them 2 years ago by exposing this weakness. They were deep and narrow and every time Barca crossed the ball Terry mopped up and they simply couldn't break them down. That's what we have to try and do.

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Great analysis Euro! Thanks for taking the time to be so thorough.

You almost have me convinced that we'll be killed, but I have to believe. I can't let go. I hope you don't mind. Deep down I think my positive karma will help the team :tup:

I am pretty sure Nioblias will field an ultra defensive formation with Simao/Gilberto/Katsourani playing all very close to our CBs, and both our wingers will spend most time holding hands with our fullbacks. Up front, Cisse will be chasing the long balls.

I am not sure man-v-man can be effective in modern football. I suspect Nioblias will play zone all the way with Simao/Katsourani gluing themselves to Mesi/Xavi. A little trick they tried with Aris was Boumsong coming off the box to track any ball carrier at the point of attack while Kante would slide over to man-mark the forward in our box. It would take discipline and we could cope a few, but we can get lucky and frustrate them.

I was encouraged watching how disciplined our defensive games was against Aris. Only a handful of times did I notice our defense out of formation. Nioblias seems to have drilled them well.

I think we need to try to keep the easy balls from falling in our box. Keep it tight there and when we come out, we can't rush pushing players because as soon as we lose the ball they will be quick to exploit empty space. We need to be able to circulate the ball as much as possible, and to move forward as a unit. We are going to need a lot of running (not sure yet where our conditioning is, but recent signs have me worried btw), and we'll need to foul them a lot. Don't let them take the easy crosses or the penetration, and don't let them catch a rhythm (watch the cards). I think this will be part of our game. Against Aris, we committed twice as many fouls as Aris and we had four or five bookings, but I think it's a good plan.

Maybe we'll catch them on an off day, or maybe we just get lucky. A! I can't wait. I have it both ways. If we win, I will be on cloud nine. If we lose it won't be a big deal - it's expected and we'll move on. :P

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all this may be true euro but the most beautful thing about football is that anything can happen...

yeah chances are we will lose, everyone knows what we are up against...but we gotta believe that something positive is possible...

if we play barca man to man or play too highly defensive, we will get destroyed...our only hope is to pressure hard and move well as a team...

i dont know if or how many we may conceed but i have a feeling we will score against them...

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