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Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Kim Källström admits the French team are grateful for the opportunity to put their domestic travails behind them as they seek a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Rémi Garde's side will defend a 1-0 first-leg lead against APOEL FC in Nicosia on Wednesday, and success would take them through to the last eight in Europe's elite club competition for the second time in three seasons. That excellence is in stark contrast to their form on the domestic front: Saturday's 2-0 defeat at AS Nancy-Lorraine left Lyon without a Ligue 1 win in five outings.
That run that has seen them drop a seemingly insurmountable 15 points adrift of first place; a trip to Cyprus presents a welcome diversion. "This game has come at a good time for us after our recent performances in Ligue 1," said Sweden midfielder Källström. "This is a different competition and I'm hopeful we will do what is necessary to go through.
It is Lyon's first time in Cyprus and we want to leave with a ticket for the quarter-finals."
That would provide a pleasing souvenir to take back to eastern France, but Källström is not packing his bags just yet. Alexandre Lacazette's second-half strike is all that separated the sides three weeks ago as APOEL defended in number, and even then the Cypriot underdogs almost claimed an equaliser with their only shot on goal. "This will be a different game to the first leg," said Källström. "We have the advantage but we need to stay composed and make sure we are effective when we attack."
A vocal capacity crowd is expected at the GSP Stadium, largely hoping to repeat the cacophony of noise that has already inspired APOEL to home victories against Wisła Kraków, FC Zenit St Petersburg and FC Porto this season. Källström, though, says he has seen it all before. "I know what to expect here in Nicosia," said the 29-year-old. "I don't think we'll be affected by the atmosphere. We have experienced players who know just how to cope with such situations."
In contrast, William Boaventura is putting much faith in APOEL's home form as they aim to become the first Cypriot senior side ever to beat French opposition. "We usually play better at home rather than away," the Brazilian defender said. "The 1-0 defeat still gives us a good chance. We will be playing to win so obviously we need to attack our opponents. I am positive that this game will be different to the first leg in Lyon.
All the players are very excited; for Lyon, this may be just another Champions League game but that is not the same for us," the 32-year-old added. "We have the chance to write some more history and we are ready both physically and mentally to meet the challenges of what will be a very hard match."
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