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Nov 9, 2006

Lyon vow to bounce back against Valenciennes

PARIS, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon will be out to show last weekend's first defeat of the season was a one-off accident when they entertain lowly Valenciennes on Friday.

'We always forget about our victories straight away to focus on the next match and we will do the same after this defeat', said Lyon's midfield inspiration, Brazil's Juninho.

'We are now all concentrating on the match against Valenciennes,' Juninho, who is suspended after picking up a red card in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Stade Rennes, told reporters.

Lyon, who were undefeated both at home and in Europe when they fell in Brittany, are still comfortably ahead of the pack.

The champions, trying to become the first side from a major European league to win six league titles in succession, are nine points clear of second-placed Nancy.

They have also made sure of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League after winning their first four group matches.

'The good side of it is that the media will now leave us alone a bit,' Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas told the club's website.

'I keep reading that we ruin the atmosphere by being so dominant. That's not fair. France should be proud of having a side that's competitive in Europe.'

Lyon are playing on Friday because the France rugby team face the All Blacks on their Gerland pitch the next day.

Valenciennes, back in Ligue 1 this season 13 years after being engulfed in France's biggest match-fixing case with Olympique Marseille, lie 14th and travel poorly, having picked up just one point from six away games.

Surprise package Nancy, who had not won anything in 28 years when they lifted the French League Cup last season, visit mid-table Lorient on Saturday.

The weekend's most intriguing fixture will be on Sunday, between Lille and Marseille.

Northerners Lille, recovering from a sluggish start, lie third, 10 points off Lyon and one ahead of Marseille.

Former European champions Marseille have slipped from second to sixth place after three consecutive defeats and can only be hoping France midfielder Franck Ribery, who has looked anonymous lately, will recapture his brilliant best.

Marseille will probably still be without France striker Djibril Cisse, who broke his leg five months ago. The former Liverpool forward is back in training and hopes to resume competitive football next week.

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