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As RSC Anderlecht welcome FK Partizan for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off with the scoreline at 2-2, playmaker Mbark Boussoufa is clear about the importance of the tie.
In a 12-minute spell during the second half in Belgrade last week, Anderlecht led, conceded two goals and then equalised. Now they stand on the verge of their first group-stage campaign since 2006/07 and Boussoufa said: "Tuesday will be one of the most important matches of the year – not only for Anderlecht, but also for Belgian football."
They warmed up well on Saturday with a 3-0 league win at KSC Lokeren OV, the victory coming despite the resting of several players and Anderlecht's team bus being involved in an accident on the way to the stadium. Striker Tom De Sutter's ankle injury and goalkeeper Davy Schollen's knee complaint keep them out but midfielders Lucas Biglia and Jonathan Legear hope to recover from respective shoulder and hamstring problems.
I hope that the fans will be behind us from the first minute of the match, as we will need them," Boussoufa added. "The Champions League is something you dream about. You play against clubs you normally only see on television. We can grab the chance to participate in it ourselves on Tuesday, and we will do all we can."
Partizan, whose only previous group berth was won away from home at Newcastle United FC seven years ago, will be rested after their scheduled weekend fixture with FK Hajduk Kula was postponed. However, midfielders Almami Moreira and Branislav Jovanović plus left-back Joseph Kizito are denied to coach Aleksandar Stanojević through injury.
Before the first leg I said that Anderlecht are favourites and I remain of that opinion," Stanojević said. "They have a good scoreline ahead of their home leg, but we still have nothing to lose. The main task for me in recent days has been to make sure my players are focused. They must be in the game for the whole 90 minutes."
With Anderlecht holding the away-goals edge, there is no thought of caution for Stanojević. "We will continue with our formation, two forwards and two attacking midfielders," he said. "We need victory and this is no time for defence."
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