Football News

Lyon bidding to secure knockout berth

Created on 08 Nov., 2012 3:45 AM GMT

Lyon travel to Athletic Bilbao on Thursday knowing a win will seal their spot in the Europa League knockout stages.

Ligue 1 side Lyon top Group I of the tournament on nine points, three ahead of second-placed Sparta Prague.

Even a draw at the Estadio San Mames, combined with Sparta avoiding defeat away to third-placed Kiryat Shmona, would send Lyon into the last 32.

But head coach Remi Garde is focusing on his players' performance rather than worry about the potential impact of various results.

"So the aim is to play well," he said.

"And I know we can do that. Maybe we could talk about qualification tomorrow but for now, we have to focus on the match and what we are going to do, not thinking about the hypothetical qualification.

Athletic, beaten Europa League finalists against Atletico Madrid last season, have failed to hit those heights early in 2012/13, disappointing both at home and in Europe.

They are 14th in La Liga, and have taken just one point so far in Group I of the Europa League.

"Our plan ahead of tomorrow's match is to take the game to them rather than wait for them to take it to us," Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa said.

"We will thank all those who come to watch us by playing football the only way it should be played, giving it our all."

Lyon won 2-1 when the two sides met in France two weeks ago, but Athletic will hope to prove a tougher challenge on home soil.