By Pete Sanderson
Olympique Lyonnais have an ace up their sleeve ahead of the first of two matches against FC Bayern München which are likely to decide their UEFA Champions League fate.
Lyon lie third in Group A after following up a 1-0 home win against RSC Anderlecht with a 2-0 loss at Celtic FC, yet will be in charge of their own destiny should they defeat Bayern in a game given extra impetus by the presence of Giovane Elber.
The Elber factor
Elber, who moved to Lyon from Bayern this summer for €4.2m to replace fellow Brazilian Sonny Anderson, remains Bayern's top scorer in the Champions League with 21 goals. He has been trailed by the German media for the past ten days, but chose to speak to uefa.com to dispel rumours that there is ill feeling between himself and his old colleagues.
'Not out for revenge'
I am certainly not out for revenge - I just want to make sure Lyon go as far as possible in the Champions League," said the 31-year-old. "We are the French champions and it is our job to play like we know we can against the champions of Germany. Afterwards I will shake hands with my former team-mates."
Ironically, Bayern's last defeat on French soil was at Lyon in 2000/01, the season the German side went on to win the competition. Bayern lost 3-0 that day, and Elber remembers the match only too well. "I came here as a Bayern player and we were played off the park," the Brazilian recalled. "Lyon are very strong at home and never let us get into that game at all. But anyone who thinks Bayern will just roll over must think again."
Lyon coach Paul Le Guen, who has no fresh injury doubts, believes that Michael Ballack will be the key man for the visitors, saying: "
Out of all the Bayern players I would say Ballack scares me the most. He is strong going forward and is also an incredible workhorse." Le Guen has also taken advantage of Elber's inside knowledge of Bayern's style. "I have spoken at length to Elber about the tactics that Bayern are likely to adopt and this has helped our preparation for the game."
His Bayern counterpart, Ottmar Hitzfeld, has brought a depleted squad to Lyon: Mehmet Scholl, Tobias Rau, Willy Sagnol and Owen Hargreaves are injured, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Markus Feulner ill and Claudio Pizarro suspended. Argentinian defender Martin Demichelis is also doubtful with an ankle injury.
I hope we will be capable of continuing our good form," said Hitzfeld, who will be able to call on goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and recent injury victims Sebastian Deisler and Jens Jeremies. "There is not only Elber in the Lyon team but also lots of other quality players such as Sidney Govou, Juninho [Pernambucano] and Vikash Dhorasoo. We must make our collective strength in defence and midfield count."
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