LOSC Lille are 1-0 down against FC København going into Wednesday's UEFA Champions League play-off second leg but coach Rudi Garcia refuses even to contemplate the possibility of elimination.
Ominously for LOSC, they have failed to win their last four home games in European competition, a run extending to last season's group stage. Their newly built Grand Stade Lille Métropole, which is preparing to host European football for the first time, gives Garcia grounds for optimism however.
"To play in our new stadium and in front of a full house will spur us on even more," he said. History also provides a reminder that such a delicately poised tie is far from over. "They are ahead but that could work in our favour. A couple years ago we beat Liverpool 1-0 at home in the first leg, but were eliminated in the return."
The Ligue 1 side were architects of their own downfall in Denmark last week and Garcia has challenged his players to learn from their mistakes. "The key will be to use the ball smartly when we have it, take our chances in front of goal, and of course we'll have to defend as a team.
"[FCK] showed more determination in the first leg but we reacted well in the second half. We had enough opportunities to score but we lacked composure in front of goal, which is unforgivable in a competition as big as this. We're not even considering the possibility of not qualifying."
Garcia rang the changes at the weekend as LOSC drew 2-2 at OGC Nice, "the best preparation" according to the coach, who expects to have Marko Baša available after an adductor problem. Question marks hang over the fitness of another defender though: Mathieu Debuchy.
København, Danish Super League runners-up last term, are eager to secure a third UEFA Champions League group stage campaign under Ariël Jacobs. The coach predicts a different proposition from eight days ago. "I'm certain we didn't see the real Lille in the first leg, for whatever reasons," he said. "Lille won't want to fail at the first time of asking inside their new stadium.
"We have to forget the first leg, be humble – any euphoria would be misplaced. At some point Lille will have to go on the offensive and when you do that, no matter your squad's quality, spaces open up. We'll have to seize those opportunities."
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