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Anderlecht aim to end run

Published: Wednesday 28 September 2005, 1.16CET
Frank Vercauteren is desperate to arrest RSC Anderlecht's losing streak when Real Betis Balompié visit Brussels - but Vincent Kompany remains doubtful.
by David Minton
from Brussels

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Published: Wednesday 28 September 2005, 1.16CET

Anderlecht aim to end run

Frank Vercauteren is desperate to arrest RSC Anderlecht's losing streak when Real Betis Balompié visit Brussels - but Vincent Kompany remains doubtful.

RSC Anderlecht coach Frank Vercauteren is hoping young defender Vincent Kompany can come to their rescue as they aim to arrest an eight-game UEFA Champions League group stage losing streak against Real Betis Balompié.

'Thinking positively'
Given that statistic, Vercauteren says avoiding defeat against the side from Seville, who also lost their opening Group G game, is the primary objective. "We'd be happy with a point but we're thinking positively, not negatively," he said.

No risks
Chasing a first Champions League home win since beating Olympique Lyonnais in November 2003, Vercauteren is desperate to see prized asset Kompany, who has been struggling with a back problem, line up against Betis. But the former Belgian international will not be tempted into taking a risk with the 19-year-old.

'Big decision'
"It's a big decision we have to make," he said. "We have to think of his health and his future. He's only young and if he plays injured that doesn't help him or the club in the long term."

Kompany 'pessimistic'
The Belgium centre-back trained with the rest of Anderlecht's 21-man squad on the eve of the tie, but remains troubled. Kompany said: "I'm a bit pessimistic. My physical state on the training field wasn't very reassuring and we'll have to make a late decision as to whether I play."

Chelsea loss
The Brussels club defended creditably on Matchday 1, without Kompany, losing by a single goal at Chelsea FC. "On the eve of the Chelsea game I was optimistic but I didn't play," he added. "This time I'm pessimistic but I might end up playing. Risks have to be weighed up in football - they are inevitable - but in big matches if the risk isn't excessive then I think you have to play."

Trio hopeful
Of Anderlecht's other walking wounded, Christian Wilhelmsson, due to sign a new contract, will start despite an ear wound which required seven stitches, while defenders Anthony Vanden Borre, recovered from a stomach upset, and Michal Zewlakow are also set to play.

Joaquín concern
Vercauteren has identified Joaquín Sánchez as Betis's dangerman. "He is very fast, can play on both wings, very strong on the ball and important to their system of 4-3-3 in attack and 4-5-1 when defending," the coach said.

Confidence jolted
Betis had their confidence jolted by a 4-1 Primera División home defeat by FC Barcelona on Saturday. "We'll get our morale back in order," said Joaquín. "The games come thick and fast now. It's nice their coach gave me plaudits but we respect them as well. If we get a win that would be great and we'll treat this match as if it were the final."

Match 'important'
Coach Llorenç Serra Ferrer shares the Spanish international's assessment of the game's importance. "It's not quite decisive yet," he said. "But it's very important, especially when you consider the level of the other clubs in the group."

Tough test
Defending champions Liverpool FC came away from Betis with a 2-1 win on Matchday 1, leaving Serra Ferrer's men with little margin for error. Without injured midfielder Edu, striker Dani and defender Luis Fernández, the coach expects a tough contest at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium.

'Physical team'
Serra Ferrer said: "They're a very physical team, a good team. It's always the side that concentrates better that wins games at this level. They know what the Champions League is about. Their players have plenty of European experience as they qualify every year."

Last updated: 28/09/05 23.16CET