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Despite representing a club long used to swapping despair for euphoria, Paris Saint-Germain FC goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau has a refreshingly measured take on his team's UEFA Cup chances ahead of their quarter-final first-leg meeting with FC Dynamo Kyiv in France on Thursday.
The Ligue 1 giants have rediscovered some of the sheen they lost in successive relegation dogfights and as well as challenging on the European front, they lie a mere four points off domestic pacesetters Olympique Lyonnais. Having captained former club FC Nantes at just 19, however, Landreau possesses a cool head capable of putting their current progress into perspective. "Yes, we can win [the UEFA Cup], but out of the last eight teams, we're the biggest outsiders," he explained. "That said, we're still involved, we've put in some good performances already, so why not? We've also taken confidence from our matches in the group stage and the knockout rounds, but the further we go, the more difficult it gets and the harder the opposition."
The capital outfit's next opponents began the season in the UEFA Champions League and after finishing third in their section overcame Valencia CF and fellow Ukrainian side FC Metalist Kharkiv to reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. They may not possess a squad list shimmering with household names but Landreau is under no illusion about the challenge PSG will face. "The problem with playing Ukrainian sides is that apart from [Andriy] Shevchenko and [Andriy] Voronin, they are more reputed for their teamwork than as individuals," said the 29-year-old. "They don't get a lot of media interest but over the last few years they've got results. Dynamo have been a constant presence in Europe recently and they deserve respect for their organisation and tactics. It's not going to be easy."
Given their massive 15-point Ukrainian Premier League advantage, Dynamo can also afford to focus all their efforts on reaching the Istanbul final on 20 May, but Landreau insisted that juggling the demands of two competitions will not leave PSG at a disadvantage. "We've been accused of favouring the league but here we are," said the French international, who won the last of his eleven caps in November 2007. "And now there's only one month to go, not seven. We don't have to choose between the league and the UEFA Cup. We're lucky enough to be where we are and now we want to seize our opportunities, show our quality and get the better of our opponents, as we've already done up until now."
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