MAKOUN WANTS EARLY GOAL
Olympiacos midfielder Jean Makoun has targeted an early goal to give his side breathing space in their Europa League last-32 tie against Rubin Kazan.
The Greek side came away from the first leg in Russia with a 1-0 advantage last week thanks to David Fuster's goal and Roy Carroll's penalty save.
The advantage was hard won, and Makoun is certainly taking nothing for granted as his side prepare for the decisive match in Piraeus.
"The first game's result definitely gives us an advantage but it does not secure the qualification," Makoun told the club's official website. "We must be cautious and I believe that an early goal would make things easier for us."
While Fuster's 71st-minute goal earned Olympiacos their advantage, it was Carroll who was the hero.
The 34-year-old former Manchester United goalkeeper produced a match-saving penalty stop with his first touch on his debut for the club after coming on as a substitute following Balazs Megyeri's red card.
And they continued their good form with a 2-0 win over Panionios at the weekend, a match in which Makoun scored and starred.
That was their fourth Super League league win in a row, a run which has put them within two points of leaders Panathinaikos.
The top two play in Athens next month and, while that match is very much on the players' minds, Makoun knows they must stay in the present.
"It will be a turning point," he said. "Everybody's waiting for it and so are we.
"However, we must stay focused and serious prior to this game."
The more immediate challenge is from a Rubin side who have been short of football of late.
The first leg was their first competitive match since the group stage because of the winter break in Russia.
Coach Kurban Berdyev felt their lack of action contributed to their defeat last in week's game.
"We're still far from the shape we were in the end of last year," he told NTV+. "But there's still the away leg."
The winners of this tie will go on to face either Salzburg or Metalist Kharkiv in the last 16.
Latest Football News at 19:00 GMT