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By David Minton in Brussels
RSC Anderlecht go into their final home Group G fixture against Valencia CF desperate to salvage something from their UEFA Champions League campaign. The Belgian champions are the only club in the competition without a point but coach Hugo Broos still harbours hope of finishing third in the group and claiming a UEFA Cup place.
"Everyone can see we've got no points," he said, as his team aim to avoid becoming the first Belgian side to end their Champions League challenge pointless. "However, we still have our pride and this is a match we have to win if we want to achieve anything. We have to try to finish with some points and qualify for the UEFA Cup."
To do that Anderlecht will have to finish ahead of the Spanish champions, currently on four points, who meet Werder Bremen on Matchday 6. "Even if we beat Valencia, UEFA Cup qualification won't be in our own hands," admitted Broos. "But we can't think like that.
Beating Valencia would be a beautiful result. They know we're going to attack them so they'll be able to play on the break and that might suit them."
Broos is without Albanian international midfield player Besnik Hasi through suspension and will not finalise his starting lineup until just before kick-off. Nenad Jestrovic's broken arm will keep him out despite a protective cast, while central defender Vincent Kompany is doubtful with a minor knee problem. However, Kompany's fellow Belgian international, striker Mbo Mpenza, is available again after a fortnight out with a calf strain.
Peersman under pressure
Broos said he is considering replacing goalkeeper Tristan Peersman with Daniel Zitka after the former produced an error-strewn performance on Saturday, badly misjudging a corner for one of second division club K. Bocholt VV's goals in Anderlecht's 3-2 Belgian Cup victory.
Valencia arrived in the Belgian capital fresh from a much needed victory, Sunday's 2-0 win against Málaga CF bringing the Spanish side their first win since late September. Coach Claudio Ranieri believes getting back to winning ways was vital, saying: "It was important for our confidence. Now we have this must-win game. We have to attack but are wary of their ability going forward. They may not have scored a point so far but they create a lot of chances."
Hanging by a thread
To qualify for the knockout phase Valencia have to win both remaining fixtures and hope that Bremen fail to beat FC Internazionale Milano, who have already qualified, at the Weserstadion in Matchday 5's other game. "We can't think about what is happening in Bremen," said Ranieri. "We have to focus on our match and then hope that Inter achieve something special."
Ranieri, whose side won eight of their first nine games of the season including a 2-0 victory against Anderlecht on Matchday 1, has a lengthy injury list, with forward Miguel Ángel Angulo the latest addition due to a thigh problem. Argentinian defender Roberto Ayala is three weeks away from a return, midfield player Vicente Rodríguez is still waiting to discover whether his ankle injury requires surgery while captain David Albelda has a torn thigh muscle.
'Only a game'
In the absence of that key trio, Ranieri will look to Pablo Aimar to provide the creative spark. The Argentinian international playmaker is ready to take on the responsibility, saying: "I want to play a major role.
We're here to win and play well. But the match is not as critical as life and death. It is only a football game."
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