AEK Athens vs Anderlecht Preview
Anderlecht will be keen to strengthen their grip on second place in Europa League Group G when they travel to AEK Athens.However, general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck does not expect to see a repeat of the 3-0 scoreline his players produced when the teams met a fortnight ago.
Anderlecht claimed their first win in the pool with an impressive display in Brussels against their Greek opponents.
That moved the Belgian side into the top two, above AEK and Hajduk Split on goal difference, with the three clubs seemingly fighting it out for the second qualifying spot behind runaway leaders Zenit St Petersburg.
Anderlecht would do their chances of progressing to the last 32 a world of good if they can complete the double over AEK in Athens tomorrow.
But Van Holsbeeck has warned the Greeks will put up a much-improved performance on home soil.
"The race (for second) is wide open, but we will be taking a huge step in the right direction with a good result against Athens," he told club website, www.rsca.be.
"We proved two weeks ago we can handle AEK. The question is whether they are really as weak as we saw then. We'll soon find out on Thursday.
"This is a home game for them and I think they will show they can do much better. They also know full well that they, Hajduk and ourselves have a chance of finishing second in the group.
"We just have to make sure we don't lose. A point would be good."
Defeat to Anderlecht last time out has left AEK bottom of the group.
Their preparations for Europe were not helped either by a surprise 1-0 defeat at lowly Panionios in the domestic Super League, which has left them trailing leaders Olympiacos by five points.
Coach Manuel Jimenez has demanded his side improve on that performance.
"We made too many mistakes," he said. "The defence was too deep, the midfield was completely cut off and far from aggressive.
"We made no attempt to attack and were too predictable.
"We can not afford to let any opponent control our game. We have to move the ball and put pressure on defenders."
Gregory Makos sat out training today because of a virus but has been included in Jimenez's 17-man squad for the visit of Anderlecht.
However, Papa Boupa Diop and Nathan Burns are sidelined by injuries