Alain Perrin and Toto Squillaci met the press and discussed tomorrow’s match against VfB Stuttgart.
How do you rate this VfB outfit?
They’re doing better in the league than they were when we met them in the first leg in Germany. They’re more solid now, as they’ve had several key players return from injury, such as Hilzberguer, Delpierre and Beck. They moved us a round a lot in the first half hour of the first leg. They don’t ask questions, they just play their game. We have to watch out; especially for attackers like Gomez, Bastürk and Cacau. We’ll have to work really hard.
Are you the favourites?
Neither team wants to be favourite. It’s 50-50. Both teams have some serious weapons. In the first leg, things went our way, but the there isn’t much between the two sides. Playing at home is little advantage as Stuttgart will do all they can to reverse the trend. We just need to step up for this cup match so that we can continue our run in the competition.
Are you thinking already about the UEFA Cup?
Qualifying for the UEFA Cup depends on this double confrontation. They’re our direct rivals. Glasgow already has a 4-point lead over us, they’re untouchable. Sure, we’re thinking about the knockout phase of the Champions League but we need to see what happens in the coming games, then we’ll see where our focus should go. But first we need to win this match, get the 3 points and then see.
Do you feel capable of winning these 3 matches?
We won’t play the 3 matches at the same time, we’ll take them one after other. Tomorrow, there is just one match. Many things can happen between matches. For the moment, we need to stick to our winning rhythm. Against Valenciennes, there were several imperfections. We left them many openings to counter attack, and we can’t afford to do that against the Germans.
What was the trigger for the roll of victories OL currently finds itself in?
The Glasgow match. In trying too hard to win, we forgot not to lose. Defensively, our formation and attitude weren’t good enough. From the next match, against Bordeaux, we rediscovered our strong defensive qualities. That’s what got us winning again.
How are Ben Arfa, Baros and Toulalan?
Hatem Ben Arfa trained normally yesterday and will have a definitive test today. I believe he’ll be in the squad. Jérémy Toulalan’s MRI showed his ligament hasn’t healed sufficiently yet, so he won’t be in the squad. Nor will Milan Baros, who still has pain from his adductor injury.
[IMG42609#R] Sébastien Squillaci:
What kind of match are you expecting?
It’ll be a tough match. It’ll take a very good OL to win it. In the first leg, Stuttgart posed us many problems, so we’ll have to be on our toes. At any rate, we can’t afford to slip up at all. We still have the opportunity of playing in the UEFA Cup or the Champions League, but also a chance of nothing at all. We could beat Barcelona at home, then win in Glasgow, but for that we would have to be at the top of our game. This match against Stuttgart is, so far, the most important game of the season. Obviously that means a lot of pressure, but you deal with it.
What differences are there between the current OL side and the one that went down to Rangers?
We’ve done a lot of good things since then. We play more as a team. We played well before, but didn’t convert it into success. Now, things are going our way. We work hard in training to play well as a team. That’s what makes us strong right now.
How is your partnership with Cleber Anderson going?
Better and better. We’re getting to know each other, and with each match our understanding develops. During matches, it’s going well, we work hard on our communication. There are still some glitches but it’s getting better and better.
You’ve played a lot recently. Aren’t you a bit lethargic or tired out?
There’s no lethargy. A bit of fatigue, though. That’s why I came off early in our last match. I’m a competitor, I want to play every match even though it’s true that a rest every now and then does you good. When you see the matches we have coming up, you want to play in all of them. I’m careful on and off the pitch to look after myself so I can be competitive in all these matches.
You haven’t won at Gerland in 3 matches. Does that give you extra motivation?
Of course. We want to play a huge match in front of our fans tomorrow. We also have a certain revenge to exact on ourselves because we haven’t had a good match in the Champions League at Gerland for a long time. We’ll be looking to show that we can do good things at this stadium. We’re not thinking about Glasgow any more, we’ve moved on. We want to show a different OL now.
How can Stuttgart pose you problems?
They have very good players with a lot of individual quality. It’s their last chance for a UEFA Cup spot, so they’ll give everything. We’ll have to start the match well; we can’t afford to let them grow in confidence. Making them doubtful from the start is essential.