MOTHERWELL face an uphill battle to progress in the Champions League, but that hasn’t stopped fans travelling in large numbers to Athens.
Panathinaikos welcome ’Well to the Olympic Stadium tonight (Wednesday) with the Greeks 2-0 up from the first leg and in a commanding position.
That wasn’t enough to put off more than 500 members of the Claret and Amber brigade from looking out their passports as they caught flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Newcastle, Manchester and London, all bound for the Greek capital.
In contrast to Scotland’s summer, Athens has been enjoying temperatures in excess of 100 degrees - great for the fans soaking up the sights but not the players with the mercury hitting the high 80s at kick-off.
‘Well boss Stuart McCall has warned his team won’t take a gung-ho approach to the match and must concentrate on defence first if they are to claw their way back into the tie.
He said: “There are things against us with the quality of the opposition and playing on a big, wide park in the searing heat.
“So we’re going to have to defend really well and getting the first goal will be key. If we score first who knows?
“We’ve got to learn from our experience because if we do go out we fall into the Europa League.
“So we’ll be competitive because we’ve a lot of young lads and it’s a learning curve for us all.
“I think we must be realistic and stay in the game as long as we can. If we can do that for a long period then, hopefully, we can push on and get that goal which might test their nerves.
“But we know it’s a real uphill task. We must be at our very best, defend well and get that little bit of luck.”
’Well’s preparations have been hampered with the loss of winger Chris Humphrey who failed to get on the plane to Greece after straining his hamstring in Saturday’s SPL opener at Ross County.
McCall said: “We’ve one or two who have little knocks, but other than that we’re ok.”
After the disappointment of starting the league campaign with a 0-0 draw in the Highlands, ’Well will be looking for their first win when they welcome St Johnstone to Fir Park on Saturday.