Paris primed to overturn the Turks

FOOTBALL: French league leaders look for revenge while Bobby Robson's Barcelona look well-placed to progress in Europe
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The Independent Online
Ricardo, the Brazilian coach of the European Cup-Winners' Cup holders, Paris St-Germain, is counting on a thirst for revenge and all- out effort from his players to help them overcome a 4-2 deficit against Galatasaray today.

"The pressure is on us but I think that's a good thing," Ricardo said this week. "The players know we have to go through and they will be at 200 per cent. They're looking for revenge and that's just the right state of mind. Honestly, we stand a chance."

In Istanbul a fortnight ago, Ricardo was without goalkeeper Bernard Lama and gifted Brazilian midfielder Leonardo, who was called up by his national team. Lama is fit again and Leonardo should also play despite a sore ankle.

Though they still lead the French league, the ambitious Paris team were held recently to a 1-1 draw by Auxerre at Parc des Princes before suffering their first league defeat of the season at Rennes on Friday.

Galatasaray will again rely heavily on the Romanian playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, superb in the first leg, and dangerous striker Hakan Sukur, scorer of two of his side's goals.

"I'm proud of my players." said the Galatasaray coach, Fatih Terim. "We are going to continue our struggle at this tempo."

Sukur, only just returning to form after a bad patch that included a poor performance in Euro 96 for Turkey, scored the 100th goal of his career in the first minute of the first leg and then went on to score a second in the 23rd minute.

Red Star Belgrade are likely to confront a far tougher defence when they also try to overturn a two-goal deficit against Barcelona.

Bobby Robson, the former England manager and now Barcelona coach, whose team are top of the Spanish league by four points, says his defenders have been just as important as the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who has scored 12 goals this season.

"The rest of the team must not be eclipsed by Ronaldo's goals," Robson said. "For the moment we are scoring goals and I hope it continues that way."

Portuguese forward Luis Figo, who has created several of Ronaldo's goals, misses the game through suspension and there is a doubt too about the fitness of the Brazilian.

"Barcelona is not unbeatable and, with the support of our fans, miracles can happen," Bratislav Zivkovic, scorer of the Red Star goals in the first leg, said.

In the Czech Republic, Sparta Prague take on Fiorentina confident their away goal in the first leg will prove vital against the heavily favoured Italians.

In rain-soaked Florence two weeks ago, Horst Siegl's 81st-minute goal set up an exciting return return, after the Italian goals by Argentinian Gabriel Batistuta and Swedish midfielder Stefan Schwarz.

"We could have ended up worse in the first match. But that one goal could decide the final balance of the two games." said the Sparta coach, Jozef Chovanec, adding that his squad will be at full strength.

Though Fiorentina followed that win by losing 3-1 to Bologna in the Italian Cup, they restored confidence with a 1-0 triumph over Milan in Serie A at the weekend.

Claudio Ranieri, the Fiorentina coach, is under no illusions about his side's task. "We'll have to be a tight-knit group, and ready to make the most of their first mistake.

"Sparta are a good team... and if we're to get through to the next round we'll have to score at least one goal."

Ranieri will gamble by recalling central defender Pasquale Padalino to replace the suspended Lorenzo Amoruso for his first outing of the season following a knee ligament injury.

Fiorentina are seventh in the Italian league. just three points behind joint leaders Juventus and Internazionale.

The Dutch league leaders, PSV Eindhoven, will try to turn round a 2-1 away defeat by Brann Bergen of Norway without Belgian international Marc Degryse who has a leg muscle injury.

Stan Valckx is expected to play, though he is not fully recovered from a groin injury, but veteran striker Rene Eykelkamp is suffering from various injuries and is doubtful.

Eindhoven are also in good form following a 7-2 win over Feyenoord 7- 2 and an 8-0 thrashing of Roda JC Kerkrade.

Brann's coach, Kjell Tennford, will have to watch his team from the stands as he is suspended for insulting a referee two weeks ago.