Goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov believes failure to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage would not be a disaster for FC Rubin Kazan but insisted his club "still have a chance" of overturning a two-goal play-off deficit against Olympique Lyonnais.
Russian football will have three representatives in Europe's premier club competition for the first time should Rubin eliminate Lyon but, in order to join FC Zenit St Petersburg and PFC CSKA Moskva in Thursday's draw, the hosts must recover from a 3-1 defeat in France. Kurban Berdyev's team are without a win in three games following successive league draws against CSKA and FC Amkar Perm, yet Ryzhikov says there is plenty of cause for optimism.
"We deserved more [in the first leg]," the 30-year-old told UEFA.com. "We dominated but failed to convert three clear-cut chances and found ourselves 1-0 down instead of 3-0 up. I don't think we are talking about a slump or a crisis, just circumstances not going in our favour, and we have more injured players than normal. On the whole everything is OK.
"We needed another goal to feel comfortable at home, but we still have a chance.
Our coach knew what he was saying when he told us to keep our heads up. I am sure we will give them a good fight. The lads will give everything to decide the tie in our favour, but if we fail to reach the group stage it won't be a disaster."
Rubin's cause is not helped by a growing injury list. Midfielders Carlos Eduardo and Aleksandr Ryazantsev and defenders César Navas and Aleksandr Orekhov are long-term absentees, while right-back Oleg Kuzmin and winger Alan Kasaev picked up knocks against Amkar. Kuzmin is out for a month but left-back Cristian Ansaldi may return having been sidelined for three weeks.
Lyon, meanwhile, had to come back from a goal down for the fourth time in as many matches at Stade Brestois 29 on Saturday, Bafétimbi Gomis salvaging a point with his third goal in four matches shortly after OL midfielder Sidy Koné had been sent off. Remi Garde, who rested Michel Bastos and Jimmy Briand at the weekend, will be without injured quartet Cris, Yoann Gourcuff, Ederson and John Mensah for the trip to Russia.
"The return leg will be very complicated," said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. "If we make it through it will be an achievement. If we don't, we're still in the Europa League."
Garde is likely to persevere with his favoured 4-4-2 formation with Gomis partnering Lisandro up front. "There is a dogfight ahead," the coach said. "
We will have to score and deliver a genuine Champions League performance if we are to go through against a very good Kazan team."
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