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FC Girondins de Bordeaux coach Michel Pavon is preparing his players for an aerial onslaught in the second leg of their UEFA Cup fourth-round encounter with Club Brugge KV.
The French side came from behind to win the first leg 3-1 but Pavón knows it could be a very different story on Belgian soil. Brugge have already beaten AFC Ajax and BV Borussia Dortmund at home this season and have only lost once in 18 games at the Jan Breydelstadion, 1-0 to AC Milan in October.
"Brugge will start the game strongly," said Pavon, who will be without suspended defender Kodjo Afanou for Thursday's tie. "Long crosses and passes can arrive from anywhere and we'll have to master the aerial game. But fortunately their way of playing will give us opportunities to counterattack."
Pavon's attacking options will be restricted by Pascal Feindouno's absence with an abdominal injury sustained in the 1-1 draw with OGC Nice at the weekend. The result left Bordeaux, whose only win in their last seven away matches came against third-round opponents Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski, in the bottom half of Ligue 1.
Brugge, in contrast, are flying high domestically. Helped by a run of ten consecutive home victories since the visit of Milan, Trond Sollied's men are on course to finish second behind RSC Anderlecht, whom they defeated recently. Long-serving right-back Olivier De Cock has not played since that 1-0 win due to injury but is expected to return against Bordeaux.
De Cock's fellow defender Birger Maertens is also in line for a recall after recovering from a hamstring strain but the influential Timmy Simons remains doubtful with a similar complaint. The Belgian international has rested since picking up the injury at the weekend and Sollied underlined his importance when he said: "It is not that the way we play totally depends on Simons - it's just I want my best players to play, and Timmy is certainly one of them."
Two goals from Albert Celades and an 87th-minute third by Albert Riera turned the first leg in Bordeaux's favour two weeks ago, although Gert Verheyen's away goal at the Stade Chaban-Delmas could prove crucial. However, should the visitors breach the Brugge defence, the Belgian side will have to score three times just to force extra time: with that in mind, Sollied is hoping his charges keep a clean sheet.
"Defeating Bordeaux 2-0 is more than just a possibility," said the Brugge coach. "
We do not need a miracle to get ourselves through. With Brugge on a good day, a little success and the help of our 12th man - the home crowd - we should be able to get past the obstacle."
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