Newcastle find calm after storm

Click to follow
The Independent Football

As the aircraft carrying Newcastle United to the first leg of their Uefa Cup round-of-16 tie landed at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, the captain advised: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you look out of the right windows you will see a tornado 15 miles away."

As the aircraft carrying Newcastle United to the first leg of their Uefa Cup round-of-16 tie landed at Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, the captain advised: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you look out of the right windows you will see a tornado 15 miles away."

The last time the Magpies touched down on Continental soil they were in the middle of their own maelstrom. The storm of disaffection among travelling supporters with Graeme Souness' wingless and wonderless team peaked with chants of "sack the board" - before the second-half introduction of Laurent Robert transformed a losing cause at Heerenveen into a 2-1 victory, and set Newcastle on the way to five successive wins.

One month on, Souness' team seems in a stable condition - unlike Olympiakos, their opponents tonight in the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus. They stand top of their league on goal difference, with 10 wins in 12 matches, but the Greeks happen to be in a state approaching crisis level.

The English language Athens News wrote yesterday of "conjecture over dressing-room harmony" and of the coach, Dusan Bajevic, agonising about whether to "stay or go." It was also reported in the Athens daily Kathimerini that Olympiakos' league game with PAOK in Thessaloniki on Sunday had raised suspicions that matches might be rigged.

Souness is more mindful of the fact that Olympiakos have won all five of their home matches in Europe - including a 1-0 victory against Liverpool in September.

Olympiakos (probable, 4-4-2): Nikopolidis; Mavrogenidis, Pantos, Anatolakis, Schurrer; Venetidis, Georgiadis, Kafes, Stoltidis; Rivaldo, Giovanni.

Newcastle United (probable, 4-4-2): Given; Carr, Bramble, O'Brien, Hughes; Dyer, Faye, Butt, Robert; Kluivert, Shearer.

Comments