Anderlecht coach, Franky Vercauteren, who knows French football well after three years playing for Nantes, is looking forward to facing Lille in tonight’s Champions League Group H encounter.
“I’m very happy to be reunited with France again,” he said. “It’s a country that gave me a lot, even though I wasn’t there for long, and I’m really looking forward to the game.”
Vercauteren is wary of taking tonight’s opponents lightly.
“Lille are solid, disciplined and possess good individual players who work for each other,” he warned. “It is true they’re not Real Madrid or Chelsea, but their results in the last couple of years prove what they can do.”
The coach believes his players should be looking to win a group which also includes Milan and AEK Athens.
He said: “I’m definitely not thinking about finishing second behind Milan. When you take part in something you want to come first.”
Vercauteren welcomes back central defender Jelle Van Damme from an ankle problem and playmaker Ahmed Hassan is available after missing the weekend game against Mouscron.
However, midfielder Sebastien Siani has knee injury while striker Nicolas Frutos lacks fitness, which means Mohamed Tchite looks likely to play on his own up front.
Lille coach Claude will look to him to improve on their scoring record among in the Champions League.
Lille scored just once in six matches in last season’s competition.
“We hope we’ll be stronger than last term and we’re focused, but the only truth is the truth on the pitch,” he said.
“Beginning with an away match is never easy, as we found out last year, but we’ll do what we can to get a result,” added the Lille coach.
“Our teams are at the same level so the difference could come down to a set-piece, superior experience or whichever side is fresher.”
Tony Sylva; Matthieu Chalmé, Efstathios Tavlaridis, Rafael Schmitz, Grégory Tafforeau; Jean Makoun, Stéphane Dumont; Kader Keita, Mathieu Bodmer, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Peter Odemwingie.
Daniel Zítka; Anthony Vanden Borre, Nicolas Pareja, Jelle Van Damme, Olivier Deschacht; Lucas Biglia, Yves Vanderhaeghe; Ahmed Hassan, Mbark Boussoufa, Bart Goor; Mohamed Tchite.