A tremendous 2-0 win against PFC CSKA Moskva at the Stadion Luzhniki on matchday five kept alive LOSC Lille Métropole's Group B qualification hopes, setting up a showdown with Trabzonspor AŞ in the section's final game.
After taking just two points from their first four games, victory in Moscow has rejuvenated Les Dogues' prospects. A win in northern France against their Turkish opponents, who sit a point above them, will secure second spot, with the quality of the performance in Russia convincing many that the French champions will qualify on 7 December.
Coach Rudi Garcia hopes that rocky start in Group B has taught his side a few things. "We can't make any more mistakes; we know that," said the 47-year-old. "If we want to get into the last 16 we need to show that we have learned. I would have liked us to have learned a little quicker, as we have dropped points at home and at Trabzonspor, and given how we played there, we should have won. We want to play the best sides and get experience. That's what this competition allows us to do."
The former Lille, SM Caen and FC Martigues player feels his side have the talent to take them through but need the attitude to match. "We need to have more confidence in what we have at our disposal," he said. "We could have won all our games, perhaps with the exception of the [2-1 loss at FC Internazionale Milano].
We cannot give our opponents too much respect; we mustn't look up to them. We are a talented side and we need to believe that."
That the club have got to this stage with qualification hopes still alive is testament to the ability of Garcia and his staff, who lost a number of key players in the summer. "We're not one of the big three clubs in France, so right from the start we couldn't have lofty ambitions," said Garcia. "After winning the double we had to replace 50% of the team and a quarter of our first team has changed. We had to work on team spirit. We had to make sure the new players settled in and got used to playing with their new team-mates."
Goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau can only hope that the new-look Lille can show how far they have come against Trabzonspor. "We have a young side who are just discovering the highest level, and the demands that come with it," said the 32-year-old. "Before the Champions League started, our aim was to get out of the group. It's not going to be easy but nothing has yet been decided yet, and we still have our fate in our own hands."
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