The official website for European football

Lille take one step at a time

Published: Tuesday 21 November 2006, 2.50CET
They may possibly be 90 minutes away from a first qualification for the knockout rounds, but LOSC Lille Métropole are refusing to look beyond RSC Anderlecht.
by Chris Burke
from Lens

Tournament statistics


Goals scored8
Attempts on target52
Attempts off target62
Fouls committed146
Yellow cards21
Red cards1
Published: Tuesday 21 November 2006, 2.50CET

Lille take one step at a time

They may possibly be 90 minutes away from a first qualification for the knockout rounds, but LOSC Lille Métropole are refusing to look beyond RSC Anderlecht.

They may be 90 minutes away from a first-ever qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, but LOSC Lille Métropole are refusing to look beyond Tuesday's crucial Group H encounter with bottom club RSC Anderlecht.

Lille focus
Victory in Lens would give the French outfit a place among the continent's top 16 teams, provided AC Milan simultaneously avoid defeat at AEK Athens FC, yet coach Claude Puel has urged his charges to forget the bigger picture. "We're approaching this game with the desire to perform well at what we do best," he said. "Whether we qualify or not is another question and we're not thinking about that, but if my players play as they can, then obviously it increases our chances."

Brussels draw
Those chances took a dent with a 1-0 loss in Athens last time out, a result which blew the section wide open, although Les Dogues remain second and will draw strength from their 1-1 draw in Brussels on Matchday 1. As Puel explained: "That was our opening fixture and they surprised us in the first half. Their level of commitment was a lot higher than we were used to in France, and it took us 45 minutes to adjust. We came back strongly, though, and were able to equalise."

Suspended duo
Second in Ligue 1 thanks to a seven-match unbeaten run - including Saturday's stalemate at FC Sochaux-Montbéliard - Lille have recovered from a slight domestic dip, yet suspensions could upset their rhythm here. Rafael Schmitz steps in for Efstathios Tavlaridis - sent off in Athens - but Yohan Cabaye's usual stand-in Stéphane Dumont is sidelined with a knee complaint, which could mean playmaker Mathieu Bodmer occupying a holding role and forward Nicolas Fauvergue enjoying a rare start. "Yohan has become really important to us recently and he's particularly useful at set-pieces," said Puel. "Nonetheless, we have other players who can perform his role."

Anderlecht injuries
The Belgian champions will be boosted by 12,000 travelling fans as they aim to add to their two-point tally, but boss Franky Vercauteren faces selection issues of his own. Goalkeeper Daniel Zítka and striker Mbo Mpenza went off injured in Saturday's 2-1 loss at KAA Gent, while Nicolas Frutos, Roland Juhász and Nicolas Pareja all appear to have lost their races to be fit. "Losing my goalkeeper and not being able to include Frutos are especially tough blows, but there's no point dwelling on it," argued Vercauteren. "Our ambitions remain the same: we want to win and keep our destiny in our own hands."

Full 90 minutes
Despite the fact the opposition have never lost at home in the competition, the former Belgian international believes his men can get the required result. "I know it won't be easy because Lille are a good team and we respect their quality, but we don't want to face AEK on Matchday 6 with nothing to play for," he stated. "We let victory slip away against them in Brussels, so we know we'll have to be at our very best for the full 90 minutes this time."

Probable teams
Lille: Tony Sylva; Matthieu Chalmé, Nicolas Plestan, Rafael Schmitz, Grégory Tafforeau; Jean II Makoun, Mathieu Bodmer; Kader Keita, Nicolas Fauvergue, Mathieu Robail; Peter Odemwingie.

Anderlecht: Davy Schollen; Anthony Vanden Borre, Jelle Van Damme, Mark De Man, Olivier Deschacht; Lucas Biglia, Yves Vanderhaeghe; Mbark Boussoufa, Serhat Akın, Bart Goor; Mohamed Tchite.

Last updated: 21/11/06 21.50CET