Lille coach Claude Puel is looking for his team to build on their win over Manchester United on Matchday 4 by repeating the feat against Benfica tonight.
“It’s a logical progression,” Puel said. “At the start my players were complete novices discovering a new competition, but they’ve gradually found their feet.”
“I think our status has changed,” he said. “People no longer regard us as minnows. We’re considered a serious team.”
“Our great strength is our collective play and we mustn’t forget that. We saw against Auxerre what can happen when you take your eye off the ball. Benfica have some great individuals and if we don’t show humility we’ll be punished.”
Lille could seal qualification with a game to spare if they win and United slip up at home to leaders Villarreal.
Lille are without wide men Mathieu Debuchy and Daniel Gygax and striker Peter Odemwingi through injury. Teenager Kevin Mirallas could get his first Champions League start, with Matt Moussilou playing the central role up front.
Benfica are without winger Simão, while Fabrizio Miccoli has only recently returned from a hamstring problem.
Coach Ronald Koeman may go for Nuno Gomes as a lone striker. Koeman is looking for the players to redouble their efforts.
“We were outfought at times against Braga (at the weekend) and we cannot afford to let the same thing happen,” he said.
“We’ve reached a pivotal stage – everything that happens now will be crucial. The game will be won and lost in the small details and I hope we get that little bit of luck you need at this level.”
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