PREVIEW Ambitious Lyon ready for AC Milan test 

PREVIEW Ambitious Lyon ready for AC Milan test

In a class of their own domestically for years, Olympique Lyon feel it is time to make an impact in Europe and have a perfect opportunity to do so against AC Milan in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

The four-times French champions, who entertain Milan in the first leg on Wednesday, have never made the semi-finals of European club soccer's showcase event.

"Lyon will be under the spotlight," said club president Jean-Michel Aulas. "For us this is a real test.

"We want to do what we did against Real Madrid," added Aulas, referring to Lyon's stunning 3-0 defeat of the Spanish giants in their opening match of the campaign.

Lyon left the Champions League in the quarter-finals the last two seasons, losing to eventual champions Porto in 2004 and to PSV Eindhoven last year.

The Ligue 1 leaders realise they have everything to prove but are ready for the challenge.

"The Italians see us as the growing little side and want to use this match to remind us that they're giants," said Aulas.

"I believe that today, we are strong enough to give them a hard time."

Brazilian Juninho, the team's inspiration in midfield, is suspended for the game.

Milan captain Paolo Maldini returned to action after three months on the sidelines as a substitute during the 3-1 win over fourth-placed Fiorentina in Serie A on Saturday.

Maldini is expected to be on the bench again given that Dutchman Jaap Stam has recovered from his calf injury and should feature in the starting line-up.


In attack, Filippo Inzaghi could be rested allowing Italy international Alberto Gilardino to renew his partnership with Andriy Shevchenko.

Gilardino has been restricted to the bench in recent weeks as Inzaghi enjoyed a purple patch of scoring form, including two goals in the 4-1 win over Bayern Munich in the previous round of the Champions League action.

"We are up against a strong team who like to play football, who have good players who are strong both technically and physically," said Gilardino.

"They are a team with personality and a lot of quality in attack. It will be tough but we are focused and determined to win," added the forward.

Probable teams:

Olympique Lyon: 1-Gregory Coupet; 31-Francois Clerc, 3-Cris, 4-Patrick Mueller, 20-Eric Abidal; 21-Tiago, 26-Benoit Pedretti, 7-Mahamadou Diarra; 22-Sylvain Wiltord, 10-Florent Malouda; 9-John Carew.

1-Dida; 31-Jaap Stam, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 4-Kakha Kaladze, 27-Serginho; 8-Gennaro Gattuso, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 20-Clarence Seedorf; 22-Kaka; 7-Andriy Shevchenko, 11-Alberto Gilardino.

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