Veteran midfielder Silvio Meissner believes it could be time for VfB Stuttgart to "start focusing on the UEFA Cup place" that third in Group E would ensure after yet another UEFA Champions League defeat left them seven points adrift of the top two.
Having been beaten by Rangers FC and FC Barcelona in their first two outings, Armin Veh's team secured an unwanted hat-trick as Fábio Santos and Karim Benzema earned Olympique Lyonnais a 2-0 victory, despite a lively opening from the home team. "We were very good in the first half, especially the first 25 minutes," said Meissner. "But still, we didn't manage to create any opportunities. Then we conceded a stupid goal from a dead-ball situation and it was 1-0. It's typical of us at the moment."
Defeat has become typical too, Lyon dealing them their ninth in 12 matches in all competitions, and with seven points separating Stuttgart from Barça and Rangers at the Group E summit, Meissner believes it is time to realign their sights. "We have no points from three games so perhaps we need start focusing on the UEFA Cup place," said the 34-year-old. "We should perhaps look upon the next three Champions League games as a good opportunity for learning, for younger and older players alike."
Indeed, inexperience has been a telling factor for Stuttgart this campaign, and it speaks volumes that as Lyon winger Sidney Govou made his 51st appearance in UEFA's premier club competition at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion, the German side's starting lineup mustered just 66 combined. Yet with a possible relegation battle looming in the Bundesliga, Meissner insists this is a time for action, not excuses. "We have a good team but we simply aren't performing as we should be," he continued. "The players need to meet and talk about how we're going to move on. And then do it." Victory in the reverse against Lyon in a fortnight would be a step in the right direction.
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