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Montpellier mount unlikely charge

Montpellier HSC began the competition looking to better last term's first-round exit, now they are 90 minutes away from the final.

Against the odds
The German team were responsible for ending France's last hope of a finalist in 2001/02 when they eliminated Toulouse FC in the last four and they will be looking to do the same to Montpellier. Indeed it has been a fairytale run to the semi-finals for Patrice Lair's side, who had Ludivine Diguelman to thank for the 1-0 first-leg away win against a team fielding four FIFA Women's World Cup and UEFA European Women's Championship winners.

Giant killing
"The result is similar to when an amateur side knocks out a professional side in the cup," said Lair. "The problem for us, though, is that there is a return leg. They know how we play now, so it will not be as easy to surprise them as in the first leg."

Duo absent
Montpellier, who have failed to drop a point in the French league this campaign, go into the return at their Joseph Blanc stadium without key international midfielders Sonia Bompastor and Camille Abily through suspension, though Lair insists they can be replaced. "Team spirit is what counts and I feel my girls are motivated," he said. "They know this is a rare opportunity for them and they do not want to let it go."

Günther gain
However, Frankfurt coach Hans-Jürgen Tritschoks remains unperturbed about the first-leg setback. "Our loss on home soil last weekend was only the first half of our meeting with Montpellier," said Tritschoks, who is likely to have a fully-fit squad available following Sarah Günther's return from injury. "Nothing is decided yet. I expect my team will do everything they can to turn the tide. The French side will experience our will to win from the very first minute. If we show all our qualities I am convinced we will make the final."

Early goal desired
The 2002 UEFA Women's Cup winners' chairwoman, Monika Staab, echoes her coach's sentiments. "Our players must do everything to reach the final," she said. "We need an early goal to level the tie and if that happens, I am sure we will see a great football match full of excitement. Our players have not forgotten that first-leg loss and are hungry to turn it around."

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