AJ Auxerre have conceded eight goals in two games but Guy Roux is confident of defeating PFC CSKA Moskva.
Fresh from their CSKA setback, Auxerre repeated the feat on Sunday, losing 4-3 at AC Ajaccio in Ligue 1. Roux was shorn of four key defenders - Younes Kaboul (France Under-19 duty), René Bolf (thigh strain), Bacary Sagna (broken rib) and Stéphane Grichting (broken hand) - and the first three are out of Thursday's match along with the suspended Jean-Pascal Mignot, sent off in Moscow.
Grichting should play against CSKA, however, while left-back Johan Radet, who returned at the weekend after six months out with a cruciate injury, will also feature. Further up the field, Roux has had mixed news: Benoît Cheyrou (achilles), Arnaud Gonzalez (knee) and David Vandenbossche (calf) are sidelined, but attacking trio Bonaventure Kalou, Kanga Alkalé and Benjani Mwaruwari are fit.
Still, the coach remains optimistic of what would be an incredible turnaround, saying: "In football you must always believe that miracles can happen. We are supposed to have no chance but more than 10,000 fans will be here. The team is mentally strong and that could save us. I believe we can go through as I believe I can win the lottery!"
Despite Roux's faith, the fact that CSKA went one better than last Thursday by thrashing FC Krylya Sovetov Samara 5-0 three days later may cause concern. The Russian Premier-Liga victory, which equalled CSKA's record winning margin, came courtesy of a wonderful display by Ivica Olic, who scored twice. Valeriy Gazzaev rested five UEFA Cup regulars, including Aleksei Berezoutski, who is banned for the trip to France.
CSKA, though, insist they are taking nothing for granted, with goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev warning: "Even if you are ten goals up, you have to concentrate. It is too early to talk about semi-finals." Midfielder Elvir Rahimic is back from suspension and is similarly circumspect, adding: "We do not want to be remembered as a side that lost a four-goal lead in a European match. Auxerre are a good team and we need to stay alert."