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Dec 7, 2012

Aubameyang rouses team-mates for derby

St Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has called on his team-mates to "fight like men" when they face Ligue 1 leaders Lyon in Sunday's Rhone derby.

With the hosts in third place ahead of the weekend's games, it has been some years since the meeting of two of French football's superpowers has held more significance than mere local bragging rights.

However, with only five points between the pair, and St Etienne on a 13-game unbeaten run in all competitions, Aubameyang, 23, has sounded a battlecry with substance behind it.

"It's going to be a big game, especially given where we are in the table. We're going to have to battle. We'll fight like men, and make our collective strength count," he told the club's official website.

"We want to have a great season, and that means coming through matches like this one. We want to enjoy the game. We'll have to put in all the ingredients to be worthy of the fixture and put a smile on the faces of our supporters."

Following Les Verts' glory years, which saw them pick up a record ten Ligue 1 titles between 1957 and 1981, there has been very little for their fervent fans to cheer.

That, however, appears to be changing under manager Christophe Galtier, ironically formerly an assistant coach at Lyon, who has helped young talents blossom - none more so than Aubameyang, who was named the French Professional Footballers' Union (UNFP) Player of the Month for November.

"I'm going to savour it, because I've had some tough times in my career," said the striker, who has eight league goals in 14 appearances this season.

"It's also a good thing for the team, because they've helped me put in good performances. Without them I would never have received this trophy. It's proof that the whole squad is working well."

Though Lyon too have excelled under Remi Garde, St Etienne president Roland Romeyer believes his team have the edge.

When asked to compare Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre with his own number one, Stephane Ruffier, by radio station RMC, Romeyer poured a little more fuel on an already fierce regional rivalry, saying: "It's not a good comparison. It's like comparing a 2CV and a Ferrari."

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