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Victory vital for Celtic cause

Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003, 11.07CET
Celtic FC are calling the visit of French champions Olympique Lyonnais a must-win encounter.

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Published: Tuesday 30 September 2003, 11.07CET

Victory vital for Celtic cause

Celtic FC are calling the visit of French champions Olympique Lyonnais a must-win encounter.

By Alex O'Henley in Glasgow

Celtic FC manager Martin O'Neill insists that Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League tie against French champions Olympique Lyonnais is a must-win game for the home team.

Makaay misery
O'Neill was visibly upset when his side failed to take anything from Matchday 1 when they narrowly lost 2-1 against FC Bayern München at the Olimpiastadion. A goal by Alan Thompson looked to have given Celtic a precious away win in Group A, but Roy Makaay scored twice in the last 15 minutes to give Bayern their first Champions League victory in eight matches.

Fully focused
"We played well for long periods against Bayern," O'Neill said, "but that is gone now and we have to focus our attention on Lyon. They have won their first game against [RSC] Anderlecht and while it won't be the death knell if we don't take all three points it is very, very important for us to win this game. The crowd will be right behind us and we have to be careful at the back, but you can't win the game by defending, so we have to go for it."

Chance possible
Celtic have defensive problems with a number of key players injured. Joos Valgaeren and Johan Mjällby have returned to training, but both are unlikely to feature although O'Neill conceded he might be forced to take a chance on one of them. The manager also revealed that a number of other players were carrying knocks from Saturday's 2-1 away win against Hibernian FC in the Scottish Premier League.

Bad memories
This is only the second time the sides have met in UEFA club competition. Four years ago, Lyon beat Celtic 1-0 home and away in the UEFA Cup and Celtic fans will remember the match at the Stade Gerland for all the wrong reasons as their star striker Henrik Larsson suffered a broken leg which kept him out of action for the rest of the 1999/00 season.

Elber threat
Celtic midfield player Neil Lennon expects a different tempo to the match in Munich and has identified the Brazilian forward Giovane Elber as Lyon's main threat. "Lyon are a good counterattacking team and they have a lot of pace going forward, so we have to be aware of that," said Lennon. "Obviously they also have Elber, who seems to have settled in quickly after his move from Bayern, and is already scoring goals for them."

Celtic support
By contrast, Lyon captain Patrick Müller insisted that he feared no individual Celtic player, saying: "They are good athletes, but we need to concentrate on beating Celtic as a team and not worry about any individuals. The support in Glasgow will be very fierce and different to what we are used to in France, but if we concentrate on the game and not on the surroundings we should be OK."

High spirits
A 4-0 win against RC Lens at the weekend has raised spirits in the Lyon camp, but coach Paul Le Guen knew that his side could expect a tough test at Celtic Park. "It will be a tough match and one that will be essential in terms of qualifying for the next stage," Le Guen said. "Celtic are a good team and we need to be prepared for the game."

Last updated: 30/09/03 12.08CET