Tuesday, August 28, 2007

UEFA Champions League Preview

UEFA Champions League Preview
By Berend Scholten and Yakir Mizrahi

The following UEFA Champions League preview was published on the official UEFA website this week by authors Berend Scholten and Yakir Mizrahi:

RSC Anderlecht have been told that failing to reach the group stage would "slow further growth" as they prepare for their decider against Fenerbahçe SK.

Pressure on
After the Belgian champions left Istanbul with a respectable 1-0 first-leg defeat by their Turkish counterparts, Anderlecht chairman Roger Vanden Stock underlined the importance of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie in Brussels.

Star attraction
"Anderlecht will not die if we do not qualify but it will slow further growth," he said. "This is the most important match of the first half of the season. Playing in the UEFA Champions League attracts stars – that's why players such as Jan Polák and Lucas Biglia came here. My message is clear: do what you came to Anderlecht for and qualify. The difference in financial terms between qualifying and not is huge – not only for the club but also the players. It think our chances are 50-50."

Théréau excited
Nicolas Frutos is recovering from heel surgery while fellow forward Mbark Boussoufa faces a late fitness test after sustaining an ankle injury in Saturday's 3-0 derby win against FC Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek. Making his first start since joining from FC Steaua Bucureşti, Frenchman Cyril Théréau scored in the derby and now wants to face Fenerbahçe. "I am still a bit short of match fitness but I felt really good on the pitch," he said. "Obviously I hope to play on Wednesday – I am ready for it."

Positive Zico
Meanwhile, Roberto Carlos opened his Fenerbahçe account with a rare header in Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Sivasspor. The goal was set up by Mateja Kežman, who has still to gain universal approval among the supporters but who has been praised by his coach Zico, who also defended fellow striker Deivid and midfielder Deniz Barış. Now Zico is focusing on Anderlecht and is confident of completing the victory. "We have come to Belgium to win," he said. "We have the lead and we have to qualify for the UEFA Champions League."

Goalkeeping change
Volkan Demirel should continue in goal after replacing Serdar Kulbilge when the Turkish international injured his knee against Sivasspor. "Serdar is a top goalkeeper and we could be looking at a serious injury problem," Zico said. "But we will play as we always do. We will make sure we score and we are halfway to winning."
©uefa.com 1998-2007.

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