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Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Kim Källström is hoping to give his coach Gérard Houllier a selection headache by impressing in the absence of Juninho Pernambucano against FC Steaua Bucuresti tonight. The Swedish international has made an outstanding start at Lyon after joining from Stade Rennais FC in the summer, and is pushing hard for a first-team place at Stade Gerland.
‘I feel happy’
Juninho, Tiago and Jérémy Toulalan remain Houllier’s preferred midfield trio, but Källström, the only Lyon player to have featured in all 16 league games this term, has given his coach plenty to think about with some energetic displays. "The fact that I’ve played a part in every game is proof that I’ve settled quickly," said the 24-year-old. "I received a very warm welcome and felt comfortable here right away. When you feel happy it’s easier to play well."
For once Källström was not involved a fortnight ago as Lyon clinched first place in Group E by drawing 2-2 draw at Real Madrid CF. He has already made his mark in the UEFA Champions League, however, playing in Lyon’s first four matches and scoring a wonderful goal on his solitary start away to FC Dynamo Kyiv.
The former Djurgårdens IF FF playmaker is relishing his first steps in Europe’s premier club competition. "The Champions League is different from everything else," he said. "It’s like playing for your country in the UEFA European Championship. The competition is short so there’s no room for error and there’s more pressure than in an ordinary league match. It’s like a 90-minute long battle, and because your opponents are always very strong the games go at a furious pace."
Many of Lyon’s players have considerable UEFA Champions League experience, and Källström has been struck by the way that his team-mates approach the big European nights. "I’ve been really impressed by their attitude," he said. "Everybody seems to raise their games for the Champions League. I already feel like I’ve improved because of the experience as I’m growing accustomed to facing top players."
‘A special occasion’
With Juninho handed a rest tonight, Källström has the opportunity to take centre stage against Steaua and is looking forward to the challenge. "We may already be sure of first place but there are still three points up for grabs, and in any case when you play in the Champions League in front of your own fans it’s always a special occasion. We’ll prepare for this in the same way as for every game and hopefully turn in another good performance."
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