Heerenveen keen to match Valencia class

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The Independent Online

Heerenveen had a rigorous introduction to the Champions' League last week when they lost 3-1 to Lyon in Group C. Tonight they hope to further their education when they meet last season's beaten finalists, Valencia. "Heerenveen can do much better and we want to prove that against Valencia," said Hans Vonk, their South African goalkeeper.

Heerenveen had a rigorous introduction to the Champions' League last week when they lost 3-1 to Lyon in Group C. Tonight they hope to further their education when they meet last season's beaten finalists, Valencia. "Heerenveen can do much better and we want to prove that against Valencia," said Hans Vonk, their South African goalkeeper.

Few changes are expected from the coach, Foppe de Haan, to the team that played in Lyon as the strikers, Dennis de Nooijer and Romano Denneboom, remain injured.

Valencia's classy midfielder Gaizka Mendieta broke two fingers in Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Mallorca in the Spanish Primera Liga, but will still play tonight. Hector Cuper, the Valencia coach, is also set to recall the Argentinian Kily Gonzalez on the left of midfield after resting him at the weekend. With Diego Alonso almost certain to start up front, Cuper's main dilemma will be whether to play Slovenia's Zlatko Zahovic or Juan Sanchez alongside him.

Lyon travel to Greece to take on Olympiakos, whose defensive problems are mounting with the Greek internationals, Georgios Anatolakis and Grigoris Georgatos, being joined on the injury list by the left-back, Christos Kontis. In attack, Lambros Houtos will be omitted after walking out on a training session last week. Gabriel Alvez, the Uruguayan international, is likely to take his place.

Lyon followed up last week's promising Champions' League debut by claiming their first league win at Nantes for 25 years. Unbeaten in their last four French First Division matches, morale in Lyon is high. "If we keep going like this and don't get any complexes, we can do well in Athens", said their defender Eric Deflanfre. Tony Vairelles, their striker, is out with a strained thigh muscle but the captain Florent Laville is back from a groin injury.

Three days after a 5-0 thrashing by Rangers, Sturm Graz's season of woe continued with their fifth consecutive defeat in the Austrian league, going down 2-1 to LASK Linz. Tonight, they have a chance to kick-start their season when they entertain Galatasaray in Group D. However, their key forward, Ivica Vastic, is still out with a knee injury, while midfielder Jan-Pieter Martens and defender Darko Milanic are also out. However, the defender, Guenther Neukirchner, and midfielder, Tomislav Kocijan, are back from injury and Iranian midfielder Mehrdad Minavand returns from suspension.

The Galatasaray coach, Mircea Lucescu, has problems in midfield, with the Romanian Gheorghe Hagi suspended, winger Okan Buruk doubtful with injury and Suat Kaya suffering from 'flu. Discipline could also become an issue with Hagi already out, and the defender Gheorghe Popescu and midfielder Emre Belozoglu one card from suspension.

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