Quarter final: first leg

Lyon coach Gerard Houllier is calling on his players to raise their game against Milan, in the hope of compensating for the loss of Juninho Pernambucano.

The Brazilian playmaker is serving a one-match suspension tonight as the French champions look to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time.

But Houllier is confident that he has the players at his disposal to pull of a win against one of the favourites to win the competition.

“When you reach the knockout stage all the teams are in with a chance,” he said.

“I don’t believe Lyon are underdogs. We have as much chance as Milan, even if we respect their record in this competition.”

Either Benoit Pedretti or Jeremy ClĂ©ment will stand in for Juninho, and Houllier admitted: “When you lose your best player you have to say it’s a handicap. It would be like Milan having to do without Kaka or Shevchenko. But we can compensate for this loss by bringing in another good player and by everybody putting in an extra effort.”

“Our aim is to win without conceding,” he added.

“I’ve told my players to be patient because there may not be a lot of chances. The game will swing on two or three moments of individual brilliance.”

Houllier is expected to stay loyal to defensive duo Francois Clerc and Patrick Muller despite the returns of Anthony Reveillere and Claudio Cacapa.

Meanwhile, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his side are running into form at just the right time.

“We’re in good condition, physically and psychologically, and that’s shown in our recent performances,” he said.

“The Champions League is a big priority for us and I’m expecting a determined performance. I want us to be positive and try to score at least one goal.”

Ancelotti will choose from Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi to play alongside Shevchenko, but he will have to make changes at the back following the withdrawals of Jaap Stam and Cafu.

Paolo Maldini, back after three months out, will not start, but Ancelotti revealed that veteran defender Alessandro Costacurta is ready for his second game in five days.

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