The official website for European football

Montpellier honour-bound to challenge Schalke

Published: Monday 3 December 2012, 19.17CET
René Girard is keen to end Montpellier Hérault SC's maiden group stage campaign on a positive note against FC Schalke 04, who will win Group B if they match Arsenal FC's result.
by Sébastien Blanchard
from Montpellier
Montpellier honour-bound to challenge Schalke
Montpellier gained their sole Group B point in the reverse fixture ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Monday 3 December 2012, 19.17CET

Montpellier honour-bound to challenge Schalke

René Girard is keen to end Montpellier Hérault SC's maiden group stage campaign on a positive note against FC Schalke 04, who will win Group B if they match Arsenal FC's result.

As the curtain falls on Montpellier Hérault SC's debut UEFA Champions League campaign, coach René Girard is determined to go out on a high against FC Schalke 04. The French club earned their only point in Group B in the matchday two encounter with Huub Stevens' charges, and – mindful that his team will top the section with a win – the Dutchman is not taking Montpellier lightly.

The most important thing at stake is our honour
René Girard
Montpellier have less experience than the other teams in this group, but they showed in our first meeting that they are a quality team
Huub Stevens

Schalke are through and will win the group if they get three points in France or if Arsenal FC are denied victory at Olympiacos CF due to their head-to-head superiority over the English club.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

Montpellier
René Girard, coach
There is nothing at stake for us, but it is a Champions League game and we must play it. We want to keep on working and be serious. We were good over there [drawing 2-2] and if we can win here it would be good.

I am frustrated because I know that it is only small things that have let us down. I have big regrets and leaving this competition with a defeat would be disappointing. We could have done better, but this is still a big game. The most important thing at stake is our honour.

Weekend result
Saturday: Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 Montpellier (Gomis 26)
Ligali; El Kaoutari, Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, Estrada; Pitau (Stambouli 55), Belhanda; Camara, Charbonnier (Herrera 55), Utaka (Cabella 70).

• Third-choice goalkeeper Jonathan Ligali, 21, made his first-team debut after injuries ruled out Geoffrey Jourdren and Laurent Pionnier. Souleymane Camara came closest to an equaliser, rattling the woodwork with 19 minutes to go, but could not prevent a defeat that leaves Montpellier with just two wins from their last eight games.

Team news
Ligali could be Montpellier's only goalkeeping option once more. Jourdren (rib) is undergoing fitness tests, while his understudy, Laurent Pionnier (thigh), is definitely out. Forward Karim Aït-Fana (knee) is a long-term absentee.

Schalke
Huub Stevens, coach

My priority is to keep the lead in this group. We will see how the players are in training and I will make my choices tomorrow. In the knockout round there are no weak teams, but by finishing first we might avoid some of the bigger ones.

We are here to win the game and the group. Things would be a bit different if we had to win to qualify, so I think that we will be a little bit more relaxed but still focused. Montpellier play good football. French football is usually quite skilful. Montpellier have less experience than the other teams in this group, but they showed in our first meeting that they are a quality team.

Weekend result
Saturday: Schalke 1-1 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (Draxler 85; De Camargo 62)
Hildebrand; Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Fuchs; Jones, Neustädter; Farfán, Holtby (Pukki 70), Draxler; Huntelaar (Marica 71).

• Julian Draxler's goal five minutes from time earned Schalke a draw, a result that leaves the Gelsenkirchen outfit without a league win in four attempts – their worst run since April/May 2011.

Team news
Marco Höger (sprained ankle), Ibrahim Afellay (thigh) and Christoph Metzelder (adductor) have all been sidelined.

Match fact
• Schalke have lost both their away games against French opponents. They went down 3-1 at AS Nancy-Lorraine in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup first round and 1-0 at Olympique Lyonnais in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage.

Last updated: 03/12/12 20.56CET

Related information

Player profiles
Coach profiles
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000347/match=2009578/prematch/preview/index.html#montpellier+honour+bound+challenge+schalke

UEFA.com features

Who are Qarabağ FK?
  • Who are Qarabağ FK?
  • Kardemir forge on: Europe's men of steel
  • Izmailov, Krasnodar 'want to go as far as possible'
  • The Women's U19 finals in photos
  • Serbia aim to take final step
  • Concentration key to Germany progress
  • See the pick of the pictures from matchday three
  • Nemanja Maksimović: Serbia's man of many parts
  • Drogba's greatest UEFA Champions League hits
  • Ireland's semi-final adventure: behind the scenes
1 of 10
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.