When LOSC Lille Métropole take on AJ Auxerre in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, it will be only the second time that French teams have met in one of Europe's premier club tournaments.
Lille coach Claude Puel will particularly relish this tie, as he was assistant to AS Monaco FC coach Jean Tigana when they tackled Olympique de Marseille in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup third round. It was a night to remember on 24 November 1998 as Marseille, without Fabrizio Ravanelli and Cyril Domoraud, travelled to the Stade Louis II. Robert Pires put Rolland Courbis' ensemble in front in the ninth minute, only for David Trezeguet to restore parity in the 18th minute.
And although Marseille regained the initiative just before half-time through Titi Camara, Ludovic Giuly scored Monaco's second equaliser in the 56th minute. Both sides finished with ten men with Monaco's Franck Dumas and Marseille's Florian Maurice getting their marching orders, while eight others had their names taken - five from Marseille, three from Monaco. The second leg a fortnight later was a tamer affair. Camara settled matters with the only goal at the Stade Vélodrome in the 71st minute, with Monaco's Muhamed Konjic's shown the red card.
There have also been two all-French encounters in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. On the first occasion, in 1995, Martin Djetou and Aleksandr Mostovoi scored second-half goals as RC Strasbourg won 2-0 at FC Metz in a single quarter-final match. Two summers later, Olympique Lyonnais beat Montpellier Herault SC 1-0 away and 3-2 at home.
Lille have won all four of their European home games this season, with striker Matt Moussilou scoring in each and with FC Zenit St. Peterburg being the only visitors to register a goal in northern France. Auxerre have played away four times in the UEFA Cup this term, their sole 2-0 victory coming at Rangers FC thanks to Ivory Coast striker Bonaventure Kalou's brace. That success ensured their passage to the knockout stages.
Lille have competed once in the UEFA Champions League, finishing third in their group behind Manchester United FC and RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2001/02, but losing just two of their six fixtures. Auxerre's best performance in Europe came in the UEFA Cup, as they reached the semi-finals in 1992/93, losing to BV Borussia Dortmund. In 1997, they were eliminated by the German club in the last eight of the Champions League.
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