kostas katsouranis wants panathinaikos fc to be "far more aggressive" in defence against fc barcelona as they bid to turn over a new leaf in their first game under jesualdo ferreira.
kostas katsouranis said he wants panathinaikos fc to show a little more backbone in their group d home game against fc barcelona after being beaten 5-1 when the sides met at camp nou on matchday 1.
having led early on through sidney govou, the greens were pulled apart in spain, leaving katsouranis rueful. "if i could change one thing from that first match it's the way we defended," said the 31-year-old. "we have to be far more aggressive in the way we defend and not allow them the time and space to do what we know they are capable of."
that opening result set a grim tone for their group d campaign. fc københavn promptly beat them 2-0 at home, before back-to-back goalless draws against fc rubin kazan left panathinaikos at the foot of the section. inconsistent domestic results helped to hurry the departure of coach nikos nioplias in the run-up to matchday 5.
however, a positive outcome against a side of barcelona's calibre could yet instigate a revival. "really, we have nothing to lose and it's a great chance for us to achieve something spectacular if we get a result against them, one of the greatest teams in the world," said greece midfielder katsouranis. "realistically, our target now is the uefa europa league, even though it is still possible for us to get to the knockout stage. we have to get maximum points in the remaining games."
two wins could keep last season's greek double winners in uefa champions league contention, but katsouranis was not looking beyond the barcelona game. "we must be disciplined, deny them space to play their game and take the chances that come our way," explained the uefa euro 2004 winner. "that is the only way."
the arrival of new coach jesualdo ferreira – who was in charge of fc porto while katsouranis was at sl benfica, from 2006 to 2009 – may be crucial in giving panathinaikos a pre-match lift. "he's only been with us for two days and that's a very short period," admitted katsouranis, "but the arrival of a new coach usually pushes the team in a positive direction."
two goals from pedro rodríguez either side of a lionel messi strike took barcelona through as group d winners and eliminated panathinaikos.
fc barcelona cruised into the uefa champions league round of 16 as group d winners on wednesday courtesy of a comfortable victory at panathinaikos fc.
after djibril cissé missed an early chance for panathinaikos, pedro rodríguez broke the deadlock in the 27th minute of a game the visitors dominated. further goals in the second half from lionel messi, who scored for the tenth game in succession for club and country, and pedro, coupled with fc københavn's 1-0 loss at fc rubin kazan, means barcelona cannot be caught and panathinaikos are now out of europe regardless of what happens on matchday 6.
looking to lift themselves off the foot of the section on new coach jesualdo ferreira's debut, the greek outfit seemed content to watch their opponents weave their entrancing passing patterns in front of them and wait for a chance on the counter. and it was newly appointed captain cissé who could have put them ahead when he was sent clear by lazaros christodoulopoulos's superb pass, but the frenchman was denied by a smart save from víctor valdés.
not to be outdone, home goalkeeper alexandros tzorvas then tipped a vicious adriano shot over the crossbar as barça sought to step up a gear. they continued to press and the home team's diligent rearguard was finally undone by daniel alves, who threaded a neat pass through for pedro to accelerate into the penalty area and beat tzorvas via a clinical right-footed finish. the visitors were controlling more than 70% of possession, and tzorvas was called into action twice in the space of a minute before half-time to save from pedro and david villa.
the greens' goalkeeper continued to do his best to thwart barcelona and adriano in particular after half-time, acrobatically palming away two powerful shots from the barça left-back. but he could do nothing to deny the visitors two minutes beyond the hour mark as andrés iniesta played a reverse pass to adriano, who squared for messi to double the lead. iniesta was again involved in pedro's second goal, his left-wing cross following a clever alves chip being slotted in from close range to seal an impressive win.