Alkmaar looks for 1st CL win against Olympiakos
AZ Alkmaar has to beat injury-hit Olympiakos on Tuesday to retain its slim chance of qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League. Last in Group H with just two points from four matches, Alkmaar is still looking for its first Champions League win and knows it will have to break down a determined Greek defense to get it. "I don't think Olympiakos is coming here to play an attractive game," Alkmaar coach Ronald Koeman said Monday. "Olympiakos will play defensively and look for a draw." The Greek champion has been plagued by injuries in recent weeks, with a total of nine players affected. Coach Zico said he hopes the injury crisis will ease in time for Tuesday's game. "Matt Derbyshire, Diogo, Luciano Galletti, Jaouad Zairi, who bring me goals, have all been injured and are part of a list of nine first-team regulars recently out," he said. "Hopefully we'll have four back for the game against AZ." Greece defender Vassilis Torosidis' 79th-minute header gave Olympiakos a 1-0 win when the teams met in September in the first round of Group H matches. The Greek team has six points from four games and is second in the group behind Arsenal which has 10 points. Standard Liege is third in the group on four points. "Our task is simple," Koeman said. "We have to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the next round." Alkmaar's task is complicated by the shaky form of Argentina international goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who has struggled in recent matches. On Saturday he was to blame for both goals in Alkmaar's 4-2 victory at Roda JC Kerkrade. The two mistakes were the latest in a string of blunders that led Koeman to publicly question Romero's place in the team. On Monday, he kept faith in his first-choice keeper. But only just. "Is this his last chance? That's a big question. I've told him he has to improve," Koeman said. "Seeing him in training, I can tell he's got the message." Alkmaar has forwards Ari, Moussa Dembele and Graziano Pelle fit again after the trio missed Saturday's match, but it is not clear if they will play Tuesday. "We scored four times away from home," Koeman said. "That was with other players. I'm not sure if the players coming back have earned a spot in the starting lineup or if they are match fit yet." Netherlands international defender Kew Jaliens will miss the Olympiakos match with a concussion suffered against Roda JC.