Garcia dampens Lille expectations
Lille coach Rudi Garcia has played down expectations on his team as they prepare to begin the defence of their Ligue 1 crown at Nancy tomorrow.
LOSC were crowned French champions last term for the first time in more than half a century, finishing eight points clear of Marseille, but Garcia has sought to ease the pressure on his players this time around. He told www.losc.fr: "I hear that we must defend our title, but I see things another way.
"A new season resumes with all the teams positioned on the same starting line. For our part, we do not defend anything. We know our strengths and limitations. We will try to fulfil our objectives - namely to be in the top three."
The visitors will be without new signing Laurent Bonnart (hamstring) and striker Tulio De Melo (tibia) tomorrow, with Czech defender David Rozehnal out for four weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Aurelien Chedjou also misses out through suspension after being sent off in his side's 5-4 Trophee des Champions defeat to Marseille last month.
"Even though our team is consistent at the start of the championship, we have until 31 August to strengthen our numbers," Garcia added. "There is no hurry. We will seize the right opportunities. Preparations this summer went well. Things fell into place. But I regret that we have been disrupted by injury."
Nancy ended last season only four points above the drop zone, and new coach Jean Fernandez admits his team could have had a more straightforward opener. "It's hard to start with Lille," he told www.asnl.net. "It is often said that the big teams struggle to start their championship, but Lille have already shown their qualities during the Trophee des Champions - a match they should never have lost.
"Their new signings (Marko Basa, Dimitri Payet, Benoit Pedretti) already look to have settled. So it's not good for us. It will be complicated, but we will try to cause them problems. In any match, even if you do not play at the same level, anything is possible."