Olympique Lyonnais coach Alain Perrin has called for a controlled display against VfB Stuttgart as the French club try to recapture their formidable home form.
Olympique Lyonnais coach Alain Perrin has called for a controlled performance against VfB Stuttgart as the French club bid to recapture their formidable home form in the UEFA Champions League.
Stade de Gerland has been a fortress in recent seasons, with Lyon unbeaten there in European competition for four and a half years prior to the visit of AS Roma in March. Rangers FC inflicted a second consecutive home defeat last month, stunning the Lyon faithful with a 3-0 success that left Perrin's men pointless after two Group E outings and dispelled any lingering sense of invincibility.
While a 2-0 win in Stuttgart last time out has kick-started Lyon's campaign, Perrin knows they cannot afford another slip in front of their own fans if they are to reach the knockout phase for a fifth year running. "We need to produce a big performance for our supporters and for our future in the competition," said the former Olympique de Marseille boss. "The Rangers game taught us a lot. We started very offensively but got caught out. It's vital not to concede first and I hope we've learned our lesson."
Ben Arfa boost
Perrin's cautious words are likely to be reflected in his selection, with Karim Benzema poised to start as a lone attacker despite the availability of Fred following a three-match suspension. Jérémy Toulalan (knee) and Milan Baroš (groin) join an injury list that includes long-term absentees Grégory Coupet, Cris and Patrick Müller, though Hatem Ben Arfa should return after missing Saturday's 2-0 victory over Valenciennes FC with an ankle knock.
Lyon's ninth win in their last ten Ligue 1 outings took them four points clear at the top, but Perrin expects a sterner examination on Wednesday, saying: "We can't allow Stuttgart as many chances as Valenciennes had. They're a typical German side that love to attack and they're fighting to stay in the competition. With forwards like [Mario] Gómez, Cacau and [Yıldıray] Baştürk around, we'll need to be on our guard."
Stuttgart's hopes of reaching the last 16 may be hanging by a thread after three straight losses, yet the return of three key defenders – Fernando Meira, Matthieu Delpierre and Andreas Beck – has given the Bundesliga champions a timely fillip. "We have some key men back and that's great news, even if they're not yet 100 per cent fit," said coach Armin Veh. "Our chances of qualifying are slim but we'll make life as difficult as possible for Lyon. We owe it to ourselves, our fans and to German football to fight hard and give a good account of our club."
With Roberto Hilbert (ankle) and Arthur Boka (knee) being Stuttgart's only absentees, Veh has plenty of options, particularly at centre-half where Meira, Delpierre and Serdar Tasci are competing for two places. The 46-year-old hinted that he would not alter the team that beat 1. FC Nürnberg 1-0 on Saturday thanks to Gómez's fifth goal of the campaign, saying: "Our captain [Meira] has shown he can play in defensive midfield and unless I have a last-minute change of heart, that's where he will play."