Panathinaikos Coach Jesualdo Ferreira has made clear that his team can't afford to concede to Malaga on Tuesday and that penalties may be their best bet.
The Greeks are 2-0 down to Malaga heading into tomorrow night’s Champions League Play-off round second leg tie, with the winners guaranteed a place in the group stages of UEFA’s premier competition.
Former Boquerones tactician Ferreira is in no doubt about the task facing his team and about how close the end result could be.
“I need warriors. With a 2-0, extra-time and penalties, we can progress,” he told today’s Press conference.
“I don’t want to take tactical risks, but mentally, I want to see the full capability of each of my players.
“We know that we cannot concede a goal because it will be very difficult, we need to draw level in order to progress. The match has nothing to do with our League game played [and won] at the weekend, which was for points.”
The 66-year-old then reached out to the club’s fans, to make clear the importance of the fixture.
“We want to score goals and, above all, not concede one. We need our fans, 70,000 to fill the stadium. It seems that many do not realise what is at stake. Part of our financial future depends on this result and our name is at stake, we can reclaim the reputation we once had in Europe that is now gone.
“It is an emotional challenge for everyone.”
Ferreira also looked back to last Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Malaga and what he expects from his players to try to turn that around.
“In a way we missed a little bit of everything. The most important was that we were nervous and lacked confidence. We had no response to them.
“We have to achieve in our minds before we can do so on the pitch. We cannot forget that they were the fourth-best team in Spain last year. Their club is not large, but clearly they have a great team.
“Tomorrow I expect a more fluid Malaga and a Panathinaikos convinced of its own ability, stronger. We can assert ourselves with a little more rhythm, I want us to play a strong game to qualify. It’s a very important challenge for my players.
“I want to see if I have the players who can create, warriors who can show we can go far in Europe and in the League. This is a test of our character.”