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Twin tests crucial for Fenerbahçe

Published: Tuesday 19 October 2004, 0.49CET
Fenerbahçe SK face the first of two games with Olympique Lyonnais that they believe will decide their fate.

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Published: Tuesday 19 October 2004, 0.49CET

Twin tests crucial for Fenerbahçe

Fenerbahçe SK face the first of two games with Olympique Lyonnais that they believe will decide their fate.

By Steve Bryant in Istanbul

Fenerbahçe SK are braced for the first of two back-to-back games with Olympique Lyonnais that could decide the Turkish side's fate in a competitive UEFA Champions League Group D.

Points vital
With Fenerbahçe in third place in the section, one point behind Manchester United FC and Lyon who both have four points, Fenerbahce coach Christoph Daum is clear that his side need a win from Tuesday's match in Istanbul or risk slipping off the pace. "This will be a very important result," Daum said. "To keep all our options open in the Champions League we will need three points. The number of matches left is getting fewer all the time and we need the three points."

Won on Saturday
The Turkish champions lost 6-2 to United on Matchday 2 but the coach insists his squad have recovered from that disappointment. Fenerbahçe are unbeaten in the Turkish Super League with Pierre van Hooijdonk ensuring them a two–point advantage over Trabzonspor at the top with the only goal of the game at Gaziantepspor on Saturday.

Lesson learned
"That match [at Old Trafford] taught us many things," added Daum. "We have looked at it all very logically and examined what happened. We know that we performed below our level and that we have to do the job properly now." Forward Tuncay Sanli said: "We have not lost confidence since the Manchester match, just the opposite."

Need for patience
Neither team has major injury worries, but Daum said he was concerned about his players' stamina against a powerful and experienced French outfit. "Lyon have many talented individuals and they play well as a team. We know how hard it is to play against that. Our players all want to win but stamina and determination will be important. It will be crucial for the players to be patient and wait for their chance."

'Now is the moment'
Lyon coach Paul Le Guen shares the belief that the outcome of the next two matches will be crucial - Fenerbahçe travel to Lyon on 3 November for Matchday 4. "Now is clearly the moment," Le Guen said. "This is our mini-tournament within the Champions League and it creates a very special situation."

Lyon unbeaten
Lyon are unbeaten in ten domestic league games and two Champions League fixtures, and this weekend they took over the leadership of Ligue 1 following Friday's 4-0 win against SM Caen. But Le Guen said the praise being showered on his team was a worry. "Humility is the basic rule of football," he said, refusing to underestimate the Turkish threat.

Le Guen wary
The French team are certainly not judging their opponents on the basis of their result at Old Trafford. "This is a different city, a different stadium, a different context altogether," added Le Guen. "Fenerbahçe may not be a side that constantly dominates a game but they have players like Van Hooijdonk and Alex who know how to get results."

Brazilian influence
Midfield player Alex is one of a number of Brazilians likely to take the field on Tuesday. Lyon captain Claudio Caçapa said he knew Alex well and was aware of the danger from his left foot. "There will be a lot of Portuguese spoken on the pitch," he joked, "we have four Brazilians and they have five." One of those, Lyon playmaker Juninho Pernambucano, is doubtful after picking up an ankle injury while on international duty, but Sylvain Wiltord will return after being rested.

Last updated: 19/10/04 11.23CET