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Didier Deschamps knows Olympique de Marseille cannot afford to relax as they head into their UEFA Europa League round of 16 decider against SL Benfica having drawn 1-1 in Lisbon, explaining: "The first game was intense, and I'm not expecting anything else on Thursday."
Hatem Ben Arfa's last-minute goal saw OM snatch a nominal advantage, but Deschamps knows just how slender their lead is. "If we keep a clean sheet we are through, but I won't ask my players to defend from the first minute," he said. "The only draw that will do for us is 0-0, and winning is always better. Benfica can score, so we have to defend well."
Marseille meet Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday and Deschamps has priorities to juggle. But while league placing is paramount – his side dropped three points off the summit after a 1-1 draw at Toulouse FC at the weekend – he is not about to give up on the UEFA Europa League. "Our priorities haven't changed: we want to play in the Champions League next season. But if you can play in the last eight in the Europa League, you don't say to your players: 'OK, guys. Do what you want, and we'll see what happens.'"
Marseille have no injury concerns, while César Peixoto (knee) is the only notable absentee for Benfica. Jorge Jesus's side remain three points clear at the top of the Liga after beating CD Nacional 1-0 on Sunday but fully appreciate the value of European success. "The national league is very important but the Europa League is prestigious," said the coach. "Against Marseille we'll take any risk we can, physically as well as tactically, and see where it takes us."
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