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Jimmy Briand is looking forward to ticking another box when Olympique Lyonnais begin their Group B campaign against FC Schalke 04 on Tuesday night.
The summer recruit from Stade Rennais FC has never experienced the UEFA Champions League before and admits he "can't wait" for his first taste of the competition. "Every player wants to play in this kind of game, and I am just the same, of course," said the 25-year-old forward. "I used to watch these games on TV in the past. I liked the atmosphere."
Briand has international experience via four caps for France and 15 appearances in the UEFA Cup for Rennes. "I know what it represents," he said of the step-up. But given he scored only once in Europe for Rennes and is waiting to register his first goal for Lyon after five Ligue 1 outings, a goal against Schalke could not be better timed. Briand knows it will not be easy even if the Bundesliga side, like Lyon, have made a disappointing start to their domestic campaign.
"In general, German teams are very strong and offensive," he warned. Schalke's attack features Raúl González, a summer acquisition from Real Madrid CF, and, like Briand, still seeking a first goal for his new club. Unlike Briand, the Spaniard has 66 UEFA Champions League goals to his name. "I'm proud to be up against such a great player. It shows how I've progressed, though I'd rather concentrate on the game," said the Lyon man.
Semi-finalists in last season's UEFA Champions League, Lyon are looking to reach the knockout rounds for the eighth year running and according to Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer start the match as "favourites". The German international admitted that the mood in the away camp was "not so good but it's getting better" as their 12 new signings bed in.
Second in the Bundesliga last term, Schalke have lost all three games so far in 2010/11 as well as the German Super Cup and their new French defender, Nicolas Plestan, explained: "A lot of players have joined the club this summer, that's why we've had some difficulties at the beginning of the season." As for Lyon's difficulties, the former LOSC Lille Métropole player added: "The [Yoann] Gourcuff signing will help them of course but they have to find their collective rhythm."
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