Diarra warns Chelsea of Lyon's potential in Europe

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The Independent Football

Chelsea's young French midfielder Lassana Diarra has identified Lyon as a team to fear in the Champions' League. The 20-year-old midfielder, understudy to the anchor man Claude Makelele at Stamford Bridge, has kept a close eye on Gérard Houllier's side.

While Chelsea will seek to top Group G with a victory over their Premiership rivals Liverpool next week, Diarra believes Lyon could pose more of a threat in Europe than the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan and Juventus.

"Lyon are a machine," Diarra said. "This team can win the Champions' League, just like us. Lyon are leading Ligue 1 by 11 points, which means a lot of things about their potential and qualities."

The youngster has made a number of substitute appearances in the Champions' League this season after coming on for his debut in the 4-0 win over Real Betis at Stamford Bridge. Despite his belief that Lyon may be a major threat to their progress this season, Diarra is adamant that Chelsea are in an upbeat mood ahead of their final group game.

"We really have a strong group. Everyone fights for his team-mates, and that is a huge help," he said.

Chelsea are hoping that the Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba will recover from a knee injury to lead their attack against Middlesbrough this weekend. Chelsea could start with Carlton Cole in that role if Hernan Crespo, who has a rib injury, and Drogba both fail to respond to treatment.