Lille OSC's unbeaten home record in Europe faces a stern test from BV Borussia Dortmund.
The German side are on a long unbeaten run in the 1. Bundesliga that stretches back to 21 October and hold a two-point advantage at the head of the table. However, they have drawn five of their last seven games and coach Matthias Sammer criticised his team's finishing ability after they were held 1-1 by FC Schalke 04 in the Ruhr derby last weekend.
For the trip to France, Sammer includes Ghanaian forward Otto Addo in the squad for the first time since recovering from a cruciate ligament injury to his knee. Meanwhile, with Jan Koller still suspended, there is a strong lobby from supporters for the return of Brazilian striker Marcio Amoroso. He has been out of action since receiving an insect bite when he went home for the Christmas holiday but Sammer refuses to rush his inclusion in the side, saying it is important to show patience with this particular problem.
Heinrich should play
Another Brazilian, the pacy Evanilson, has impressed since his arrival on loan from Parma AC and the club are trying to extend his stay until the summer of 2003. German international midfield player Jörg Heinrich is expected to be fit after missing the Schalke game with a thigh problem but new boy Sebastian Kehl is ineligible having played for SC Freiburg earlier in the competition. Sammer warned his team that "On Thursday, a compact and physically strong side will be waiting for us", but with playmaker Tomáš Rosicky on top form he is confident Dortmund will meet the challenge.
LOSC are missing several players because of injury but at least Bruno Cheyrou is back after a three-week absence caused by a foot problem. The striker, who proved one of the key men in their Champions League campaign, could have a valuable role as a substitute on Thursday as coach Vahid Halilhodzic weighs up his options. The Bosnian is unable to call on Stéphane Pichot (toe), Chrisophe Landrin (knee), Fernando D'Amico (knee) and Djezon Boutoille (flu). "I regret that we won't be physically and tactically at 100 per cent," Halilhodzis said."
Priority on defence
The LOSC coach is certainly wary of Dortmund and continued: "We must first think about defence and avoid conceding a goal. The Germans are impressive and are very powerful in attack." Dortmund have lost just once away from home in the Bundesliga this season.
Unbeaten at home
LOSC gained a 1-0 away win against FC Nantes Atlantique last weekend but their fifth place in Le Championnat shows a loss of form given they led the table at the start of the season. They are out of both cup competitions and, in the last two months, have claimed just six points out of a possible 21 in the league. That said, LOSC, conquerors of AC Fiorentina in the last round, are unbeaten at home in Europe this season while Dortmund, for all their away prowess in the Bundesliga, have won just one of four road matches in Europe.