Puel: Lille need 'perfect match' to beat Utd

February 20, 2007

Lille coach Claude Puel believes his team need to play a 'perfect match' if they are to get anything out of their Champions League tie against Manchester United on Tuesday night.

GettyImagesLille boss Claude Puel

Premiership leaders United go into the first leg of the last-16 clash as favourites, even though Les Dogues secured a win and a draw against them in the group stages of last year's tournament.

Puel is confident his team are good enough to trouble Alex Ferguson's men at the Stade Felix Bollaert.

But he appreciates everything has to go exactly to plan if they are to travel to Old Trafford in a fortnight's time with a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

'I think there are little things we can exploit against our opposition,' he said. 'But it is only by concentrating on our own game that we are going to make a difference.

'The team has to be at 100%. It has to be a perfect match from us.

'If we compare the two teams, there is clearly a difference between us. But in a home-and-away tie, we know anything is possible.'

The main priority for Puel is making sure the tie is alive going into the second leg at Old Trafford.

'A good result will be one that allows us to have a chance of qualifying in the return leg,' he added.

'I don't know what the percentage is in our favour, but I know that we have a chance.

'The first match must allow us to go to the return leg without that being hypothetical. If we can make a difference at home, that will be very good very us.'

Lille are no pushovers in Europe any more, something United are all too aware of having lost 1-0 away to the French team last season.

They secured their place in this campaign's knockout stages by beating AC Milan 2-0 at the San Siro in December.

Puel feels his side are no longer scared of playing Europe's heavyweight teams such as United.

'The big difference has been the change in mentality,' he said. 'We were like spectators last year.

'This year we have more ambition and we're more attack-minded. The players have realised they don't need to feel inhibited when they play top teams. When we went to Milan, we went there believing we could win.

'I always want my players to impose themselves rather than worry about the opposition. That philosophy has stuck with me.'

Forward Kader Keita misses out through suspension for Les Dogues, who are third in France's Ligue 1, and he will be replaced by either Mathieu Debuchy, Ludovic Obraniak or Mathieu Chalme.

Peter Odemwingie is competing with Johan Audel for a place up front, and midfielder Mathieu Bodmer should be fit to start again after recovering from ankle trouble.