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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 15, 2007

Lyon determined to bounce back in League Cup

PARIS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon, who slumped to their second defeat of the season at the weekend, promised they will bounce back immediately when they entertain Ligue 1 rivals Le Mans in the French League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

Lyon, looking to become the first team from a major European league to win six titles in succession, lost 2-0 at Toulouse on Saturday.

'Great teams never lose twice in a row,' Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre, deputising for the injured Gregory Coupet, told reporters.

'What we have to do now is demonstrate against Le Mans that we are a great team.'

Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas said his team had lacked humility against a determined Toulouse side.

'You should never listen to those who keep telling you you're wonderful,' he said. 'We were not humble enough. That said, our players are intelligent enough to react swiftly to that sort of situation.'

Lyon face a busy schedule with also the Champions League on their agenda. The five-times French champions are desperate to make an impact in Europe at last after leaving the showcase competition in the quarter-finals the last three years.

'I think losing to Toulouse will prove a good thing, even if I hate to say it', said Lyon coach Gerard Houllier. 'It will probably act as a wake-up call and will be useful for all the challenges we're facing.'

In a class of their own in Ligue 1 for years, Lyon are not exactly Cup specialists. They lifted the French Cup for the third and last time in 1973 and have won the League Cup only once, six years ago, beating Monaco in the final.

Girondins Bordeaux, who won the League Cup in 2002, will visit once-great Stade Reims in the other semi-final on Tuesday.

Now in Ligue 2, seven-times French champions Reims were the measure of all things in France in the 1950s with such great players as Raymond Kopa, Just Fontaine and Roger Piantoni.

'This match shows that Reims are again a force to be reckoned with,' said Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot. 'There will be a lot of stress but we're ever so happy to present our fans with such a great fixture.'

Not as prestigious as the French Cup, the League Cup was introduced in the 1994-95 season. It is often criticised as an unnecessary addition to a crowded calendar.

The winners qualify for the UEFA Cup. The final is on March 31 at Stade de France.

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