Coach Claude Puel has high hopes that LOSC Lille Métropole will eliminate Sevilla FC and reach the quarter-finals - despite a worrying injury list.
Coach Claude Puel has high hopes that LOSC Lille Métropole will eliminate Sevilla FC and reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals - despite a worrying injury list ahead of Thursday's home leg.
With playmaker Milenko Ačimovič already injured and Efstathios Tavlaridis suspended, last weekend's 4-0 win against Le Mans UC 72 came at a cost. Defender Grégory Tafforeau sustained a groin problem, midfielder Mathieu Debuchy complained of back pains, and striker Peter Odemwingie was left with a sore thigh.
All three will undergo last-minute tests to see if they can play against Sevilla - whom Lille beat 1-0 in the group stage last season. However, Puel is taking little comfort from that success. "This game cannot be compared with our win last term, because Sevilla are going really well in their league right now," he said. "We are stepping up another level with such opponents and expect a tough game at home and a tougher one away."
Sixth in Spain, Sevilla are indeed flying, with striker Frédéric Kanouté in his best form since joining last August. The 28-year-old knows all about Lille from his time with Olympique Lyonnais. "Lille are a humble team but they have been among the best sides in France for the last three or four years," he said of Ligue 1's third-placed club. "They work hard and defend well so they are difficult opponents, especially away from home."
Brazilian midfielder Renato should return from injury to Juande Ramos's side, 2-1 victors against Athletic Club Bilbao on Sunday, and is eager to impress. "I have to make up for lost time," he said. "I hope I can go to the FIFA World Cup with Brazil. The Lille tie will be decided at home but I hope we can get a good result there and make the most of these 90 minutes."