The prospect of facing Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi and Iván Córdoba holds no fears for Sonny Anderson. The Olympique Lyonnais striker is well versed in the art of unlocking the most parsimonious of defences and saw no reason why the Internazionale FC triumvirate should give him extra cause for concern ahead of their UEFA Champions League meeting tonight.
"We have to respect Inter because they have quality players but we often play against three at the back in the league," said Anderson, Lyon's most potent attacking force and, with six goals, the joint-leading scorer in Ligue 1 this season. "We are getting more and more used to playing against a system like that so it shouldn't affect us much."
Character and ability
Anderson believes Lyon displayed a blend of character and ability in the second half of the 2-1 away defeat by AFC Ajax and, moreover, in last week's 5-0 humbling of Rosenborg BK in France which suggests they can account for Group D leaders Inter at the San Siro. "We have to impose our style of play like we did after the interval against Ajax and in the match against Rosenborg," he said. "We showed we could get the better of those teams by playing our way."
Born in Goiatuba, Brazil, in 1970, Anderson has been playing it his way since turning professional with CR Vasco de Gama in 1988. Tremendously quick and skilful, Anderson won a championship in his second season in Rio de Janiero before trying his luck in Europe, initially in Switzerland with Servette FC, then with Olympique de Marseille and AS Monaco FC in France, before a move to FC Barcelona.
Collection of honours
He returned to France from Camp Nou as one of Ligue 1's most decorated players having won five national titles, in addition to a UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Cup with Barça. More silverware was collected last season as Anderson, twice the leading scorer in French football, struck 14 goals in 25 matches to help Lyon wrest the title from RC Lens on the most dramatic of final days.
With mission one accomplished, the securing of a first French crown, Anderson's next task is to secure longevity in the Champions League for Lyon. A player who scored on his debut in the competition for Barcelona against FC Skonto in August 1997, Anderson's know-how in Europe could prove pivotal to crossing the fine line between advancing and elimination.
Indeed, he spoke with experience yesterday, urging his team-mates to "play intelligently", adding: "We must above all not lose this match. A draw would be important and something good for us could come at the end of the group - we have to be prudent." Prudence is not an attribute usually associated with such a maverick forward, yet Anderson is a man for surprises and plans to spring another one against Cannavaro and company this evening.
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