Lyon ready for Real in Champions League opener
LYON, France, Sep 10 (Reuters) Olympique Lyon have prepared for Wednesday's Champions League opener against Real Madrid in the best way possible by beating Troyes 2-0 to go top of Ligue 1.
Last season, the French champions won nine times before Champions League matches in their run to the quarter-finals. Yesterday's home triumph, in which Brazil midfielder Juninho scored one and made the other, should provide a similar lift.
''Every time you play in this competition, it's a real advantage to win the game that comes just before a match, because you can prepare more calmly,'' Juninho told reporters today.
''Victory is the best possible preparation,'' echoed centre back Cris, who opened the scoring at the Gerland stadium from a Juninho free kick yesterday.
''Everybody helped each other. There is a great team spirit in the squad. It will help us against Real Madrid.'' Coach Gerard Houllier rested French internationals Eric Abidal and Florent Malouda, as they had played in last Wednesday's 3-1 win over Italy in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
Striker Sidney Govou, who scored twice against the world champions, only played one hour against Troyes.
''Whether you like it or not, these (international) games take a lot out of you, both physically and mentally,'' said Houllier.
''We will be fresh on Wednesday. I am not worried about this match because the motivation and the concentration will come naturally.'' However, Juninho warned against any complacency after Lyon opened last season's Champions League campaign with a sparkling 3-0 home win over Real.
''We will have to be very careful,'' he said. ''It will not be the same game as last year,'' he said.
''Real have changed a lot, with a new coach who has another mentality,'' he added, referring to Fabio Capello's tactical skills and emphasis on solid defending.
REUTERS PDS RAI1857