Sébastien Squillaci believes Olympique Lyonnais "owe it to ourselves and the fans" to put in a good display when VfB Stuttgart travel to the Stade de Gerland.
When DaMarcus Beasley slotted in Rangers FC's third goal at Stade de Gerland on Matchday 2, the home fans were reduced to stunned silence. Olympique Lyonnais had not been beaten at their own ground in the UEFA Champions League group stage since October 2002, and the 3-0 humbling came as a bitter shock to a crowd accustomed to seeing their team cruise into the last 16.
Taking into account last season's draw with FC Steaua Bucureşti and defeat by AS Roma in the first knockout round, Lyon have now failed to win their last three home UEFA Champions League matches, a run centre-back Sébastien Squillaci is determined to end against VfB Stuttgart. "In our hearts we really want to turn in a good performance for the supporters," the 27-year-old said. "We also owe it to ourselves because we haven't played well at home in Europe for a long time."
With several key players leaving in the summer, Lyon's poor early-season form – which included a 3-0 loss at FC Barcelona on Matchday 1 – was not totally unexpected, but a battling 2-0 victory away to Stuttgart two weeks ago and an eleven-game unbeaten domestic run suggest old habits are returning. "The results have been great recently and we've turned in some good displays," enthused Squillaci, who has emerged as a leading figure in the absence of injured captain Cris. "We weren't playing badly before but sometimes little things were going against us. We've been working hard in training and perhaps the luck has started favouring us more."
Another factor has been the improved showings of certain new recruits, most of whom have taken time to settle. Brazilian defender Anderson is a prime example, having struggled alongside Squillaci initially before steadily finding his feet in France. "Our partnership is getting better and better," said the French international. "It was tough at first because he didn't speak French but slowly we've got to know each other and developed an understanding. We've worked hard on our communication and, even though it's not yet perfect, we're starting to see the benefits."
Lyon's new centre-back pairing survived a thorough examination in Germany on Matchday 3, particularly during the opening 30 minutes when the Bundesliga champions poured forward with menace. Squillaci expects an equally testing night against opponents needing to win to remain in realistic contention in Group E. "Stuttgart have some very dangerous forwards with great individual quality," said the former AS Monaco FC man. "It's their last chance and I'm sure they'll fight very hard. We were solid in defence in Germany but they still managed to pose problems, so we'll need to be attentive and focused at all times."