PREVIEW: SKODA XANTHI - ARIS SALONIKI
Eddie Johnson looks to hit the mark in a should-win match at Xanthi, while Freddy Adu could see playing time in his debut for the Greek club.
The Thessalonians turn east on Sunday for a must-win match against eleventh-place holders Xanthi, coming off an embarrassing 1-1 stalemate at Panthrakikos.
American striker Eddie Johnson is expected to get another look from Aris coach Hector Raul Cuper, and hopes to hit the back of the net after his would-be game-winner against Panathinaikos last week. Compatriot Freddy Adu may get a look from the Argentine skipper given midfielder Sergio Koke's shoulder injury earlier this week.
With eleven games left in the Super League season, Aris look to narrow the eight-point gap between them and Olympiakos and cross-town rivals PAOK Thessaloniki, each with 40 points in the standings. The 2:30pm kickoff local time will also give the club a chance to preview their next opponent in the Greek Cup quarterfinal, when the two meet once again in the Skoda Xanthi Arena on Feb. 10.
In their previous meeting last September in Thessaloniki, the hosts eked out a 1-0 victory thanks to an extra-time winner from current Botafogo striker and Uruguayan Sebastian Abreu.
Cuper still has concerns about Spanish striker Sergio Koke, who sustained a minor shoulder injury this week but quickly recovered. Tunisian midfielder Mahti Nafti will serve the second of his two-match ban for a yellow picked up against PAS Giannina. Irishman Ian Daly continues his recovery, but is not expected to appear for the Black and Golds.
German coach Wolfgang Wolf's men face a race from relegation with four points distancing them from PAS Giannina. The former Vfl Wolfsburg, FC Nuremberg and FC Kaiserslautern skipper will look for firepower from Slovakian Zdeno Štrba or Argentine Mauro Poy, who have amassed four and three goals respectively thus far this season.