Lyon face European battle with familiar flavour

LYON - Olympique Lyon are perfectly aware that their clash with Girondins Bordeaux has little to do with domestic duties and is all about making a real impact in Europe at last.

Lyon, hosting the Ligue 1 champions in the first leg of their all-French Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, are determined to seize the chance to advance to the last four of European club football's premier event for the first time.

"We're not playing against Bordeaux, we're playing against ourselves," Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris, who was instrumental in his side's shock elimination of Real Madrid in the previous round, told reporters.

"We must score a goal or two and not concede any. We have all it takes to go through."

To French fans, two Ligue 1 sides facing each other in the last eight means one will feature in the semi-finals.

Lyon and Bordeaux, however, see it differently.

After winning seven Ligue 1 titles in succession before losing their crown to Bordeaux last year, Lyon want to show they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Whereas Bordeaux, who under threat from several teams including Lyon in the league title race, are eager to prove they belong in Europe and can handle the pressure of the big matches.


That was far from obvious on Saturday when they lost 3-1 to Olympique Marseille in the French League Cup final, although it was clear their focus was already switched to the battle against Lyon.

"Playing a final while handling the preparations for the match against Lyon was never going to be easy," Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc told reporters after the defeat by Marseille.

"It is a good thing that we have to play again as early as Tuesday," he added. "We have a fantastic opportunity to put our disappointment behind us and to bounce back straight away."

Lyon will be almost at full strength, with only defenders Francois Clerc and Cleber Anderson sidelined with long-term injuries, and coach Claude Puel will be able to field his best-possible lineup.

Things are not that simple for Blanc, with holding midfielder Alou Diarra serving suspension after being sent off in the previous round against Olympiakos and defender Marc Planus nursing a knee injury.

With Bordeaux 2-0 down against Marseille shortly after the hour mark in the League Cup final, Blanc substituted arguably his two best players, France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff and Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh, to spare them for Tuesday.

Girondins' chances of moving past Lyon will depend heavily on how those two fare on the Gerland pitch.

Probable teams

Lyon - Hugo Lloris; Anthony Reveillere, Cris, Jeremy Toulalan, Aly Cissokho; Miralem Pjanic, Jean Makoun, Maxime Gonalons; Sidney Govou, Cesar Delgado; Lisandro Lopez.

Bordeaux - Cedric Carrasso; Matthieu Chalme, Henrique, Michael Ciani, Benoit Tremoulinas; Ludovic Sane, Fernando; Jaroslav Plasil, Yoann Gourcuff, Wendel; Marouane Chamakh.

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