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Žilina's Hapal targets Marseille scalp

Pavel Hapal believes MŠK Žilina can take heart from their display in France when they play Olympique de Marseille, saying: "We have to play like we did in the second half," of their 1-0 loss.

Žilina's Hapal targets Marseille scalp
Žilina's Hapal targets Marseille scalp ©UEFA.com

MŠK Žilina coach Pavel Hapal believes his side can take heart from their performance in the 1-0 defeat by Olympique de Marseille in southern France on Matchday 3 as the Slovakian titleholders look to claim their first points in UEFA Champions League Group F. "We have to play like we did in the second half in Marseille," urged Hapal, whose opposite number Didier Deschamps is predicting an improved performance from his men.

Pavel Hapal, Žilina coach
We may not have any points from our first three games, but our performance in Marseille was promising and we'll do our best to make our fans happy. We proved to ourselves we can compete against teams of the quality of Marseille. They were worried at the end of the match as we were superior in the closing stages and posed a threat in front of goal. We had some great chances, but at this level you have to convert them or you cannot win. We have to play like we did in the second half in Marseille.

We are realistic. Žilina are fighting for third place in the group and will try to qualify for the Europa League, even though theoretically we still have a chance to make it to the Champions League round of 16. Football is a beautiful game and brings some amazing surprises. We hope we can surprise our opponents. Whether it will be enough or not, we will see, but we have to believe and work hard. We don't play in the Champions League every year. This game is a last chance for Marseille as well as for us. It will be do or die for both.

Didier Deschamps, Marseille coach
It's cold here because of the strong winds but generally the weather conditions are acceptable so I'm not worried about that. We haven’t played a game for some time. Certain players featured in the League Cup match against Guingamp but others have had a longer break [due to the postponement of Saturday’s Ligue 1 game with Stade Rennais FC]. We've tried to keep everybody sharp by training more and performing different exercises, but we'd rather have played a game.

Every team in the UEFA Champions League has a certain quality otherwise they wouldn't be here. I imagine Žilina will be highly motivated and will look to grab all three points after playing well against us at Stade Vélodrome. My players didn't play well in that game but they have shown me in training that they want to improve. That's important for me. This is a big match for Žilina who are hoping to get in the UEFA Europa League. They will be stronger at home but we're also capable of playing better.

Team news
Mário Pečalka was in the starting XI on Friday after recovering from a right ankle injury, his first appearance since 15 October, and the home side have a full squad.

Stéphane Mbia (hip) and Édouard Cissé (hamstring) both sustained injuries against Guingamp, though Mbia was declared fit for the Stade Rennais FC match at the weekend.

Weekend results
29/10/10 Žilina 3-3 Dukla Banská Bystrica
(Oravec 9 54 67; Hesek 11 40, Uškovič 78)
Tomáš Oravec doubled his league goals tally for the season with his maiden hat-trick for the club. Friday's game was Žilina's first at home in over a month following six successive away matches.

30/10/10 Marseille P-P Stade Rennais FC
Marseille's home game against Rennes on Saturday was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. There was another inspection on Sunday with a view to kicking off that evening, but the pitch was still deemed unplayable.

Did you know?
Prior to Matchday 3, Žilina had been involved in three previous contests against French sides, all in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. In the 1995 group stage they lost 5-0 at home to Olympique Lyonnais while two years later they beat FC Metz 2-1 in the home leg of their second round tie, only to lose 3-0 in the return.

For more information see the match background.