Champions League First Knockout Round – second leg (first leg 0-0)
Lyon coach Gérard Houllier believes that it will take “a moment of brilliance” for his side to defeat Roma and reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth year running.
“Roma are the strongest side we’ve met at this stage of the competition,” he said. “We’ll need to keep our solidity and produce a moment of individual or collective brilliance. We’ll also need some luck.”
Houllier highlighted his captain Juninho Pernambucano as a potential match-winner, saying: “Our biggest strength is our collective play. But in this competition you also need two or three players of a superior, even world-class level. Juninho is one of them. He can produce something special at any moment.”
The Brazilian was rested for Saturday’s 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne, a result that suggests Lyon are emerging from their recent poor run.
“St-Etienne was a good rehearsal for a top-level game,” said Houllier. “This match is like a final. In a final, it doesn’t matter if you concede so long as you score more goals than your opponent.”
Houllier has been boosted by the recent returns from injury of Sylvain Wiltord, Karim Benzema and Alou Diarra. Only the suspended Jérémy Toulalan misses out, paving the way for Diarra to play the holding midfield role. “Diarra has different qualities to Toulalan and he’ll be very useful,” Houllier added.
Roma, whose slender title hopes evaporated with their 1-1 draw with Ascoli at the weekend, will be looking to talismanic skipper Francesco Totti for inspiration.
“Francesco cares a lot about the club and the city and I expect a big performance from him,” said Roma coach Luciano Spalletti.
“This is a critical moment in our season,” Spalletti added. “I don’t want to dwell on past results because the future still promises much. Lyon are an excellent team but we can go into the match with optimism.”
“We won’t play for a 0-0 draw – it’s not in our nature,” he insisted.
“Maintaining our shape is important, of course, but it’s also important to attack and take our chances.”
Spalletti welcomes back Brazilian forward Taddei who has recovered from a thigh strain, while defender Cristian Chivu should be Roma’s only change from the first leg.
Gregory Coupet; Anthony Reeveillere/François Clerc, Sebastien Squillaci, Cris, Eric Abidal; Tiago, Alou Diarra, Juninho Pernambucano; Sidney Govou, Florent Malouda; Fred.
Doni; Christian Panucci, Cristian Chivu, Philippe Mexes, Max Tonetto; David Pizarro, Daniele De Rossi; Taddei, Simone Perrotta, Mancini; Francesco Totti.