ACF Fiorentina's French international goalkeeper Sébastien Frey is back at Stade de Gerland after a ten-year absence and is aiming to inflict some damage on the Group F hopes of his once local club, Olympique Lyonnais.
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ACF Fiorentina goalkeeper Sébastien Frey was in reflective mood on his return to France for the Group F encounter with Olympique Lyonnais. A decade has passed since he last visited Stade de Gerland, as a teenager with AS Cannes during his one season in Ligue 1 before a move to Italy. "Coming back has stirred up some nice memories," Frey said. "It's a pleasure to be here and to be playing in the [UEFA] Champions League with Fiorentina for the first time."
'A good career'
Paradoxically Frey, who grew up in Haute-Savoie near Lyon, is better known to followers of Serie A than to supporters in his native country. He crossed the Alps in 1998, enjoying spells at FC Internazionale Milano, Hellas Verona FC and Parma FC before joining Fiorentina in 2005. His stock may be higher on Italian soil, yet the 28-year-old dismisses suggestions that this game is an opportunity to impress his compatriots. "I don't have a lot to prove to people in France," said Frey, who has been capped twice by Les Bleus. "I left Ligue 1 at a young age but have had a good career in Italy and am appreciated there."
Frey has tasted the UEFA Champions League with Inter and Parma, but the experience will be new for many of his team-mates as Fiorentina make their first appearance in the competition since 1999/2000. "This is a really big night for us. Helping my club get a good result is all that matters to me," said Frey, who expects a severe test from the seven-time French champions. "Lyon have played some of the most beautiful football in Europe in recent years. They have some very gifted players – as I can testify having played alongside some of them with France. They're used to these big nights. We're not as experienced but we're ambitious and gradually building our own tradition."
Meanwhile, one of Frey's colleagues in France's UEFA EURO 2008™ squad, Jérémy Toulalan, is urging Lyon to learn from mistakes made last term. The Rhone club may have progressed to the knockout stage for a fifth year running, yet they needed a dramatic rescue act after losing their opening two group matches. "We have to be quicker off the mark because it's hard to make up the lost points," the 25-year-old midfielder warned. "We feel better prepared than last year. We've conceded only two goals [in five Ligue 1 games] this season and we're playing with more discipline."
With FC Bayern München and FC Steaua Bucureşti completing a strong section, Toulalan accepts there will be little margin for error, saying: "I see Bayern as the favourites to finish top, so it could be between Fiorentina, Steaua and ourselves for second. You always want to aim for top spot but we have to be realistic and our objective is simply to get out of the group. That's why it is so important to get a victory in the first game."