First Knockout round
Lille believe they can spring another upset on visitors Manchester United when the sides meet in the First knockout round.
The French outfit beat United at the Stade de France last season, and coach Claude Puel sees no reason why they cannot enmulate that feat this week.
“When you compare the two teams, of course there’s a big difference,” he said. “But in a two-legged tie, you’re always going to have a chance and we know we’ll get opportunities. It would be great to go into the second match with a lead, yet even if we don’t we hope to be in a position to finish the job over there.”
Lille have certainly looked a stronger outfit in Europe this season, having scored eight goals so far compared to just one in 2005-06. They also remain unbeaten at home in nine Champions League encounters, although their recent domestic form may be a cause for concern for Puel.
“I’m not worried because this is a different competition,” he revealed.
“Champions League matches are more about technique and we just have to repeat what we did in the group stage.”
Puel will be without the suspended Kader Keita tonight, but he is confident of coping with the loss of the striker.
“The thing about this team is that nobody is irreplaceable,” insisted Puel. “We’ve already shown with our turnover this season that we can win no matter who is missing. We’ll cope without him.”
Manchester United have no injury concerns with goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar back after breaking his nose, and Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney all fresh after sitting out Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup draw at home to Reading.
“It’s possibly the first time we’ve had everyone fit in Europe and that’s a real blessing,” said manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
United have won only once in their last eleven trips abroad, and Ferguson is looking to Rooney in particular to help end that dismal sequence.
The England forward has has not scored in Europe since his debut hat-trick for United against Fenerbahce in 2004.
“It will happen for Wayne, he will explode eventually, said the Scot.
“I hope he can take into this game the form he is showing now. In the last few weeks he has come back to his best.”
“The stage will not affect Wayne. His temperament is fantastic for a young lad. I have no worries about that.”
Lille: Tony Sylva; Matthieu Chalmé, Efstathios Tavlaridis, Nicolas Plestan, Grégory Tafforeau; Yohan Cabaye, Jean II Makoun; Mathieu Debuchy, Mathieu Bodmer, Ludovic Obraniak; Peter Odemwingie.
Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar; Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidi?, Patrice Evra; Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs; Henrik Larsson, Wayne Rooney.