By Pete Sanderson in Lyon
Sidney Govou could be forgiven for feeling a little put out.
Last time out
While every football fan from Biarritz to Berlin is banging on about his strike partner, Giovane Elber, ahead of Olympique Lyonnais' UEFA Champions League match with FC Bayern München, they seem to have forgotten who sent the Stade Gerland into ecstasy last time the sides met in the competition.
Stuff of dreams
Govou still recalls that match, in the second group stage of the 2000/01 competition, as if it was yesterday. He had the kind of game every young striker dreams of, scoring two spectacular goals before his blistering run down the right set up Pierre Laigle for the third.
'I still watch it'
"I still watch that game from time to time," recalled Govou. "If I am having a bad time in front of goal or my confidence is low it makes me feel a whole lot better watching myself scoring against the side who went on to be champions of Europe later that year."
Watching Govou in Lyon's opening two Champions League matches this year, it is hard to believe the striker has ever been short of confidence in front of goal. With a touch every bit as assured as his shot is explosive, Govou has grown from a young pretender to a player French coach Jacques Santini sees as an integral part of his squad for UEFA EURO 2004™.
Groomed by Santini
Ironically, it was Santini who helped nurture him into the player he is today during his time as coach of Lyon. Now 24, Govou knows it is matches like the Group A fixture with Bayern which could set him apart from the other talented young strikers waiting in the international wings.
"We will certainly not underestimate what a great squad Bayern possess," Govou told uefa.com. "They are a strong side in every position but I will not be overawed by the experience. In fact I will enjoy it as I regard myself as a big-match player."
Confident of success
Govou got his big break after being spotted playing for his local side, Le Puyen-Velay, but had to be talked into accepting a contract at Lyon because he was scared of not making the grade, having already mapped out a career as a chiropractor. His fear of failure is now a thing of the past and - after helping his side to their second successive French title - Govou is confident Lyon can be a success both at home and in Europe this season.
"If we continue to play the football we have played over the last year consistently then I think we can get a third title," he said. "And if we can get positive results against Bayern and Celtic [FC] in the home matches there is no reason why we cannot reach the last eight."
And Govou was quick to defend criticism of Lyon coach Paul Le Guen's tactics prompted by their slow start to the domestic campaign and reignited by the 2-0 defeat at Celtic three weeks ago. "People say we try to change our tactics in Europe but this is untrue," he said. "We try to play exactly the same kind of football in the Champions League, trying to win at home and not to lose away. We started slowly this year but a win against Bayern could put us top of the group."
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