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Lyon need confidence boost
February 16, 2006 16:27 IST
Olympique Lyon's dip in form is proving to be of concern to the players before next week's Champions League tie against PSV Eindhoven.
The French champions, who host mid-table Nantes on Friday, have not won a league match for over a month and have had their lead at the top of the table cut from 14 points to seven by Girondins Bordeaux.
"To prepare for the PSV match we have little choice but to beat Nantes," midfielder Florent Malouda told the club's website. "A victory would do us a lot of good and it would boost our confidence."
Lyon have drawn their last three league games and only just avoided defeat at Racing Lens when France forward Sylvain Wiltord scored in stoppage time.
"We can't be happy with these three draws," Malouda said. "We have lost some ground and we must now get back to winning. It's crucial to win this game. I'm certain that things will return to normal after that.
"The match against Eindhoven could be the turning point of our season," he added.
"Winning the Champions League is one of two goals this season. The other one being to clinch a [record] fifth consecutive title. We must qualify for the next round and it does not matter how we do it," he said.
Coach Gerard Houllier is concerned about the persistent below-par performances of his strikers.
Norway's John Carew has not scored for two months while Brazilian Fred last netted on January 14.
"I'm expecting much more from the guys up front," Houllier said.
Defender Eric Abidal has resumed training after breaking his foot during a friendly match against Costa Rica in November but the French international is still far from his best shape.
Nantes, the side who eliminated Lyon in a penalty shootout in the second round of the League Cup, are 12th in the table.
"We are almost certain to avoid relegation now," Nantes coach Serge Le Dizet said. "We are kind of beginning a new championship now. We are not in the role of the prey anymore, we are the hunters again.
"We can try finish a bit higher in the standings. A place between 10th and the seventh would be deserved but to do so, we need some more wins," said midfielder Nicolas Savinaud.
Nantes will be without influential goalkeeper Mickael Landreau, who is suspended.
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage