LOSC Lille finished bottom of their UEFA Champions League section in 2011/12, but are thrilled to have an opportunity to make amends in Group F. However, they will do well to be wary of an FC BATE Borisov side who have plenty of experience and are already well into their stride this season.
Coach Rudi Garcia
I am desperate to get the Champions League started. I cannot wait. I am very happy to be back in this competition.
It is important to win the first game at home. Although it is just three points from a potential 18, it is better to have them to start with. Last season, we were favourites in our Champions League group but ended up third – now they say we are underdogs, and that is what we prefer.
The press say we will end up third or fourth in the group – we will see if we can finish first or second. If we perform better at home than last year, then we can reach the knockout stage.
Four of the BATE players started for the [Belarus] national team last week. They have already played 21 games in their league as well as three rounds in the Champions League, so they are fully into their season, while we have just begun. They play a traditional 4-4-2. We have to exploit their weaker points.
Saturday: ES Troyes Aube Champagne 1-1 LOSC (Grax 88; Payet 38)
Landreau; Debuchy, Digne, Chedjou, Beria; Balmont, Pedretti (Mavuba 74), Martin; Roux (Mendes 64), De Melo, Payet (Bruno 88).
• Dimitri Payet scored his 32nd Ligue goal in his 200th top-flight game yet his former AS Saint-Étienne team-mate Sébastien Grax crowned Troyes' late dominance with a leveller.
Salomon Kalou plays after missing LOSC’s last Ligue 1 match through suspension, with Garcia hoping that summer signings Payet, Marvin Martin and Nolan Roux are getting the hang of things as they adjust to new surroundings.
Coach Viktor Goncharenko
The French league is very good. Lille were champions [in 2011], so we are up against a very good side from a strong competition. We have to be aware of that. Maybe Lille have not started so well in the league, but they played very well against København in the play-offs and that is more important, because this is European competition and the best you can get.
We can play with freedom – without pressure. It was the same situation last year when we were also the least strong team in the group.
We are very well organised, so we can take points off every side in the group if we play our best football – anywhere and against any team.
Lille have excellent players in every area – they are strong in every position. They are very well prepared physically and tactically for every game. But we know how to prepare for matches like these, because of the experience we have picked up in recent years.
Saturday:BATE 2-0 FC Torpedo Zhodino (Pavlov 66, Simić 76) Gorbunov; Polyakov, Radkov, Simić, Yurevich; Sivakov (Likhtarovich 46); Volodko, Bressan (Hleb 65), Pavlov (Olekhnovich 81); Rodionov, Vasilyuk.
• BATE are unbeaten in six straight Belarusian Premier League matches (three wins and three draws).
• Aleksandr Pavlov was named man of the match against Zhodino having scored one and set up the other.
Midfielder Dmitri Baga has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, but while plenty of BATE players were on international duty last week, Goncharenko reported no additional injury concerns.
LOSC played FC Dinamo Minsk in the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round, winning 2-1 at home and drawing 2-2 away, while BATE met Paris Saint-Germain FC in the 2010/11 UEFA Cup round of 32 and went out on away goals. The games ended 2-2 at the Dinamo Stadion and 0-0 in Paris.
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