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Le Guen impatient to progress

Published: Wednesday 3 November 2004, 11.06CET
Olympique Lyonnais coach Paul Le Guen has set his sights on early qualification by beating Fenerbahçe SK.

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Published: Wednesday 3 November 2004, 11.06CET

Le Guen impatient to progress

Olympique Lyonnais coach Paul Le Guen has set his sights on early qualification by beating Fenerbahçe SK.

By Matthew Spiro in Lyon

Olympique Lyonnais manager Paul Le Guen has told his players to treat Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match against Fenerbahçe SK like a one-off cup tie, as they look to seal a place in the knockout phase with two matches to spare.

'Tremendous achievement'
Successive away victories have taken Lyon to the Group D summit, and they will qualify if they take all three points at the Stade Gerland and AC Sparta Praha fail to win at Manchester United FC. Le Guen said: "To go through after just four matches would be a tremendous achievement. We never believed this would be possible after drawing our first game at home [to United]."

'Cup tie'
The French league leaders will still be well placed if they fail to win, but with a trip to Old Trafford around the corner, Le Guen is keen to complete the job. "We have the chance to go through and I hope we take it," he said. "This game is more like a cup tie because my players know what is at stake and they know what the reward is for a win."

Key men missing
Two of the central figures in last month's 3-1 win at Fenerbahçe will be missing, however. Captain Claudio Caçapa faces two months out after sustaining a knee injury in Saturday's 1-0 victory over RC Strasbourg, and Sylvain Wiltord has a thigh strain. Lamine Diatta will deputise in the centre of defence while Pierre-Alain Frau, who scored as a substitute in Istanbul, will be flanked by Sidney Govou and Florent Malouda in a three-pronged attack.

Emotional evening
Govou is bracing himself for an emotional evening after being told he will captain the club he has represented since the start of his career. "I wasn't expecting it," said the 25-year-old, "but Grégory [Coupet] and I are the players who have been here longest so perhaps it's logical. I'm very proud but I won't change the way I play."

'Collective spirit'
Le Guen claimed the changes would not disrupt his team's form, saying: "I've got confidence in the players coming in and I've got confidence in Sidney who has the right profile for a captain. It's wrong to put too much emphasis on individuals because our biggest strength is our collective spirit."

Delicate situation
Fenerbahçe's situation is more delicate. Back-to-back defeats have left them third in the group with three points, and manager Christoph Daum is demanding an improvement. "We're not out yet and while there is still a chance, I expect my players to fight," he said. "We've made mistakes in previous games and now we have to show that we've learnt our lessons."

'World-class talent'
Daum was critical of Alex de Sousa's performance in Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Besiktas JK, but hinted that the Brazilian playmaker would start again on Wednesday, playing just behind Pierre van Hooijdonk and Márcio Nobre, who is expected to recover from a facial injury. "[Alex] is a world-class talent," Daum said. "We're proud to have a player of this calibre and his form could explode in a big game like this."

Defensive improvements
The Turkish champions have conceded nine goals in their past two European games and captain Ümit Özat called for the whole team to improve their defensive play. "It's not right to point the finger at the defence," said the left-back. "The whole team has to defend and the whole team is responsible for the results." Servet Çetin, who will partner Fábio Luciano in the centre of defence, added: "It's make or break now and we can't afford any more errors."

Last updated: 03/11/04 12.19CET