LOSC Lille Métropole coach Rudi Garcia says he is ready to savour the "special flavour" of the UEFA Champions League as the French title holders prepare to host PFC CSKA Moskva.
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LOSC Lille Métropole coach Rudi Garcia, serving a touchline ban, has cautioned his players against believing the hype that has installed them among favourites to advance from Group B as the French title holders prepare for a tough opener against PFC CSKA Moskva.
Coach Rudi Garcia
We are well prepared and relaxed; there is no need to motivate the players. There is a chance we could be overwhelmed by the occasion, but we have had plenty of experience negotiating big games towards the end of last season, and previously in the UEFA Europa League against Liverpool FC and Valencia CF. I am more preoccupied by all those saying we should easily qualify from this group. CSKA and Trabzonspor are dangerous teams: we are far from favourites.
To beat CSKA, we will need to take care of their attackers. They have quick players but we will play to our strengths. We are the home team and it is the opening match so it is important to win, take the points and then see what's next. There are no calculations: if we can win this game we will start on a positive note and edge towards qualification. This competition has a special flavour and we want to bite into it. We will rely on our team spirit.
Saturday: AS Saint-Étienne 1-3 Lille
(Rozehnal og 7; Hazard 55 73, Obraniak 86)
Landreau; Beria, Chedjou, Rozehnal, Debuchy; Pedretti (Obraniak 52), Mavuba, Balmont; Payet (Cole 65), Hazard, Sow (Rodelin 85)
• Lille's third successive Ligue 1 win was aided by the 35th-minute dismissal of Loris Néry for a challenge on Franck Beria. Joe Cole, on his debut, set up Lille's third goal for Ludovic Obraniak.
Aurélien Chedjou was restricted to light training on Tuesday after finishing the St-Etienne win with a thigh injury. David Rozehnal made his first appearance of the campaign on Saturday following knee surgery, though Garcia says Cole "is not yet ready for 90 minutes" despite a promising second-half cameo in the 3-1 win. Marko Baša (groin) and Beria (ankle) should recover from knocks but Túlio De Melo is out.
Coach Leonid Slutski
We have prepared as we always do, despite the defeat by Dinamo. We had a day's rest then we trained and had our flight to Lille. We have a lot of injured players but we will find 11 players from somewhere and I don't think there is a direct link between our results and the fact we have so many out as we have experienced players that can deputise. Lille are a very attacking team. We have to consider ways of defending against them we try to catch them on the break.
Saturday: CSKA 0-4 FC Dinamo Moskva (Voronin 36, Kuranyi 39, Fernández 69, Kokorin 90)
Chepchugov; A Berezutski, V Berezutski, Ignashevich, Nababkin; Aldonin (Šemberas 83), Mamaev, Tošić (Dzagoev 46), Oliseh (Cauņa 68); Vágner Love, Doumbia
• CSKA have won just one of their last six league games, allowing FC Zenit St Petersburg to wipe out their seven-point lead at the summit.
CSKA's lengthy list of absentees includes goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, Keisuke Honda, Viktor Vasin, Tomáš Necid (all knee), Georgi Schennikov (ankle) and Mark González (hip).
Lille's only previous fixture against a Russian team came in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage when they beat Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 in France. CSKA were triumphant on their last visit to France, winning 4-3 at AS Nancy-Lorraine in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage.