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Sink or swim time for Girard's Montpellier

Though Montpellier Hérault SC are toiling domestically and treading water in Group B, René Girard sees Olympiacos FC's visit as "a great chance to get our heads out of the water".

Montpellier coach René Girard believes Olympiacos are favourites
Montpellier coach René Girard believes Olympiacos are favourites ©AFP/Getty Images

René Girard is hopeful that Montpellier Hérault SC, weighed down by a dismal start to their Ligue 1 title defence, can loosen the shackles against Olympiacos FC on Wednesday. Montpellier may be 16th in the French top flight and have a solitary point in UEFA Champions League Group B, but Girard maintains faith that the tide will turn against Olympiacos. The Greek champions are yet to get off the mark in the section, and coach Leonardo Jardim knows that it is now or never.

Coach René Girard

It is an important match for both teams. After the draw we knew they would be our biggest rival in the group, with Arsenal and Schalke out in front. The winner will have a chance to fight for qualification. I do not think we are favourites. When you look at the European pedigree of both teams it is clear that Olympiacos are. They have a great side. I think that maybe they are more dangerous away than at home, as they are very compact. We will need to be patient and solid. Our aim is not to concede.

The Champions League gives us an opportunity to get away from the pressure of the league. We are not nervous, but we do obviously have the pressure of a Champions League game. At home we have not always been at ease, but tomorrow's game is a great opportunity to get our head out of the water. We will play to win. We are going to use this match to get our defensive solidity back for the league.

We learn a lot in this competition – we discover what it's like to be at the top level. I trust this group of players and I know they are able to raise their game.

Weekend result
Saturday: Stade Rennais FC 2-1 Montpellier (Makoun 13, Mevlüt 52; Belhanda 68pen)

Pionnier; Jeunechamp (Herrera 73), Congré, Hilton, Bedimo; Saihi, Stambouli, Belhanda, Mounier (Cabella 54); Camara, Charbonnier (Utaka 54).

• Goalkeeper Laurent Pionnier made his first appearance of the campaign in Rennes, but could not prevent Montpellier from suffering their fifth defeat in nine Ligue 1 games.

Team news
John Utaka – out since 14 September with muscle injury – returned to the side on Saturday, earning the penalty from which Montpellier scored. Geoffrey Jourdren and Marco Estrada are also available again having sat out the weekend action.

Coach Leonardo Jardim

It is a very important match. If we win this it will increase our chances of getting closer to qualification. If we don't, we will continue to fight for third place and the Europa League. For us and for Montpellier, it is a huge game. We are pleased with our performances but we need a result, so tomorrow we want to get one.

We are ready to play this 'final' in Montpellier. They are a great team who won the French league last season. They were excellent last year. In the league they are currently going through a rough time, but in the Champions League their performances have been excellent. We respect them as they are a fine side.

Weekend result
Saturday: Olympiacos 4-0 Xanthi FC (Manolas 37, Holebas 51, Djebbour 54 64)

Carroll; Modesto, Contreras, Manolas, Holebas (Torossidis 70); Maniatis, Greco; Abdoun, Fuster, Machado (Mitroglou 71); Djebbour (Vlachodimos 79).

• Rafik Djebbour took his seasonal tally to eight goals in six Greek Super League outings with a second-half double. The victory was Olympiacos's seventh in as many matches this term, equalling the best start to a season in the professional era, which they also set in 1999/2000.

Team news
Dimitris Siovas (thigh strain), Giannis Fetfatzidis (bruised knee), Ariel Ibagaza (right groin) and Tassos Papazoglou (dislocated shoulder) have not travelled to France.

Match fact
This is the first time Montpellier have faced Greek opposition in a competitive fixture. After three successive 2-1 defeats on French soil, Olympiacos tasted success on their last visit to the country, winning 1-0 at Olympique de Marseille in last season's group stage. Fetfatzidis scored the goal.

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