They may be struggling to cope with expectation in Ligue 1, but Olympique de Marseille know the result will be all that matters when Beşiktaş JK visit France.
Olympique de Marseille's return to the European élite was supposed to be an occasion to celebrate, but the crisis-ridden French club know the result will be all that matters when Group A rivals Beşiktaş JK visit the Stade Vélodrome on Tuesday.
Like their Turkish opponents, the 1993 tournament winners are launching their first UEFA Champions League bid since 2003/04, and coach Albert Emon hopes the change in competition can help kick-start their season. Lying 15th in Ligue 1, his team have looked nothing like the outfit many tipped to challenge for domestic honours, and they plumbed new depths with Saturday's 2-1 loss to Toulouse FC which stretched their winless home run to four games. "We have to forget about that," said Emon. "The Champions League is different, so we'll put our league form to one side and use this match to finally get ourselves going."
Eager to focus minds on the task ahead, the 54-year-old also stressed that his players are desperate to turn things around. "Our preparations have gone well," he said. "Don't forget that these players earned us qualification with their efforts last year, so they know as well as anyone how important the game will be. We just need to be strong mentally and more disciplined than we have been. Rest assured that we'll go out to attack, because it's so important to start the Champions League with three points."
Despite Emon's confidence in his troops, there are certain to be casualties from the Toulouse defeat, with captain Lorik Cana returning to midfield after suspension, probably at Benoît Cheyrou's expense. Likewise, Jacques Faty looks poised to replace Taye Taiwo in defence and Boudewijn Zenden should earn a call-up on the left wing, where his vast European experience could prove crucial in breaking down what his coach described as "the best defence in Turkey at the moment".
Having conceded just one goal in five domestic outings this term, the Süper Lig's second-placed side certainly look tight at the back, even with former Marseille man Lamine Diatta required to fill in for injured Turkish international stopper Gökhan Zan. However, two consecutive goalless draws – including Saturday's stalemate at basement club Ankaraspor AS – suggest Beşiktaş are not clicking further forward. "True, but that doesn't worry me," countered the Istanbul outfit's promising young coach Ertuğrul Sağlam. "Those games taught us what we need to do in the future, and a draw would be a good result for us here anyway."
Absent from the weekend trip to the capital, Argentinian midfielder Matías Delgado ought to bring invention to Besiktas's attacking play: it was his three goals in the 3-1 aggregate victory over FC Zürich in the third qualifying round that secured his team's return to Europe's top table. "It was our aim to qualify and now we've made it we want to succeed," added Sağlam. "That's what our fans expect and we'll try to dictate our own rhythm. We don't feel we have to win – but that doesn't mean we're not going to!"