Olympique Lyonnais may have secured their place in the UEFA Champions League's last 16 but they are in no mood to relax against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC on Matchday 6, says Hugo Lloris.
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Olympique Lyonnais may have already secured their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League but there is no chance of them playing their final group fixture against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in second gear, according to Hugo Lloris. "You'll see a true Champions League match," said the goalkeeper, and with good reason.
Lyon are playing for first place in Group B against a visiting Israeli side who, though bottom of the pool, are still in contention for a UEFA Europa League berth. Claude Puel's team are a point behind section leaders FC Schalke 04 and need to beat Hapoel and hope the German club fail to win against third-placed SL Benfica in Lisbon to wrest first place.
"The stakes are high," said France No1 Lloris. "Even if we are behind Schalke, we have to do our best to get first place, knowing that Benfica have still not qualified for the Europa League. We have the fortune to play our last game at home, so it wouldn't be a good idea to fail."
Lloris, 23, is well are aware of the significance of finishing first and avoiding some of the tournament's big guns in the 17 December draw for the next round. "I've never finished first in Champions League. I know that it could be an advantage, avoiding teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona for instance." It is fitting he mentions the two Spanish giants – two years ago, Lyon lost to FC Barcelona in the first knockout round, while they beat Real Madrid CF last year at the same stage.
Top spot would also mean Lyon being at home for the second leg in the last 16 and their form at the Stade de Gerland is a cause for optimism for Lloris as he looks ahead to the immediate challenge against Hapoel – they have won their two previous home games in Group B without conceding a goal while Hapoel have lost their two away matches.
Yet Hapoel did win away twice in the qualifying rounds and forward Etey Shechter said that, while their task was daunting, the desire was there. "We know that we'll have it tough against a great club. Lyon will probably dominate the game, but with the right willpower, we can win," he said.