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Lemonis awaits baptism of fire against Juventus

Turin (Italy) (AFP) – New Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis conceded he faces a baptism of fire against last year’s finalists Juventus in Wednesday’s Champions League Group D clash in Turin just two days after his appointment.

Lemonis has returned to coach Olympiakos for the fourth time, replacing Albanian Besnik Hasi who was sacked Monday after the weekend’s dramatic derby collapse to AEK.

“Everything was so fast I didn’t even have time to think,” said the 57-year-old who won his fifth championship with Olympiakos just last May, following previous triumphs in 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2008.

“I did the first training session with the team today (Tuesday) and tomorrow will be the second. Tomorrow night we play this important game, afterwards I will have time to reflect and think about things.”

Olympiakos lost their opener to Sporting Lisbon 3-2 and like Juventus, who fell 3-0 at Barcelona, are looking for their first points of the European campaign.

“Obviously the difficulty is huge but we’re in a situation where we want to fight. 

“We knew we would face enormous difficulties in this group, Sporting Lisbon is also a wonderful team.”

Hasi, 45, was fired after just 109 days on the job having replaced Lemonis himself.

The former Albanian international was blamed for Olympiakos’ poor start in the Super League, where they trail AEK by five points.

“We have to prove something to people,” said Lemonis.

“The image of the team is not good but we’re playing Champions League so we have to think not just about the match but a whole range of matches.

“I’ll be careful in the selection of players. I want to create a balanced team, but when you have players like Olympiakos it’s easier to create strategies. 

“I have some ideas in mind but for the first two days I have just been thinking about Juventus. We have to be realistic Juventus is a great team, but we have come here to fight as a team.”

Belgian goalkeeper Silvio Proto will play in the Allianz Stadium after Greek international Stefanos Kapino was sent to train with the club’s under-20 squad after the AEK defeat.

“We’re here to play with heart,” said Proto. “It’s a special match for me because half of my family is Italian, my Dad is Sicilian.

“Also a year ago I had a serious knee injury and I was thinking about quitting football and today I have the possibility to playing a big match in this great stadium. I’m going to do my maximum.”

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