With Olympique Lyonnais boasting a 16-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit, France coach Raymond Domenech announced today that he plans to visit the club to underline the importance of Les Bleus' UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifiers in early June.
As Gérard Houllier's side are almost certain to win the title, Domenech hopes the trip will help encourage the French internationals at the Stade de Gerland - there were nine in his most recent squad last month - to ease off when a sixth successive crown is secure. "Lyon can win the championship a month or six weeks before our games against Ukraine and Georgia, and it would be inhumane to expect the players to maintain such an intense level," said the former Lyon player and coach. "I have good relations with the staff there and we'll find a solution."
The Ukraine match in Paris on 2 June is particularly important as both countries have 12 points from five Group B qualifiers, the same tally as Scotland who have played a game more. Domenech should have talisman Patrick Vieira back for that fixture, and the tie against Georgia in Auxerre four days later - the FC Internazionale Milano midfielder hopes to return from a thigh injury in time for the Coppa Italia final against AS Roma on 9 and 17 May. The 30-year-old, sidelined since 11 February, said: "I want to return without any time pressure because a recurrence would mean another few months out of action. However, I hope to be available for the Coppa Italia and EURO qualifiers."
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