Football: French clubs vie for Uefa advance

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FRENCH CLUBS will tonight try to make up for the country's European Cup failure this season by securing three of the fourth berths in the Uefa Cup semi-finals.

Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lyon, the top three in the league standings, are attempting to become the first French side to win the tournament. Marseilles are at home to Celta Vigo, Bordeaux entertain Parma and Lyon travel to Bologna in a quarter-final line-up comprising only French, Italian and Spanish clubs. The Italians could also claim three semi-final places, with Roma playing Atletico Madrid away in tonight's first leg.

Bordeaux, who eliminated Milan on their way to the 1996 final, face arguably the toughest task against the favourites Parma, winners in 1995 and currently second in Serie A despite being hit by injuries and suspensions in their recent games.

Parma's French World Cup midfielder, Alain Boghossian, is out but Dino Baggio, having recovered from a foot injury, should return along with the Argentinian playmaker Juan Veron, who has been suspended. Celta Vigo are arguably Spain's best hope of a place in the last four. Atletico, under their new coach, Carlos Aguliar, face a Roma side who played brilliantly in Saturday's 1-0 Serie A defeat of Milan.

Bologna have had a remarkable run all the way from the InterToto Cup, but their morale has been hit by a 5-0 thrashing by Piacenza at the weekend. They welcome back striker Giuseppe Signori from suspension.

Lyon, 1-0 winners at Paris St-Germain last week, are without their suspended Swiss striker, Marco Grassi.