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Macintosh: Prem Heroes and Villains

Premier League about an hour ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 26, 2008

Puel believes Lyon can finally make an impression

Lyon coach Claude Puel believes his side are ready to make the step up from also-rans to contenders in the Champions League after sealing their place in the tournament's knockout stages for the sixth year running.

Les Gones guaranteed a top-two finish in Group F with last night's 2-1 win at Fiorentina, thanks to goals by Jean Makoun and Karim Benzema in the opening half-hour.

The reigning French champions have never made it into the semi-finals of the competition, successive failures in either the last 16 or the quarters over the past five years meaning they have been slapped with a nearly-man tag.

But Puel reckons Lyon's class of 2008/09 could be about to put the record straight and rise to European football's top table.

"Only by constantly playing in this competition and getting results can we answer this type of question," he said. "Since the start of the season, we have been trying to make that step up. And despite everything that is happening to us at the moment, we are on the right path.

"We are very satisfied to have already qualified for the last 16. We delivered a great performance in every area against Fiorentina."

When asked if it had been Lyon's best display since he took charge of the club in the summer, Puel said: "Yes, I think so, especially as it was an away game. We put on a very solid front and performed well against opposition of great quality.

"From the start of the match, we felt strong and we knew we could hurt them up front."

On the clash against Bayern in two weeks' time, Puel added: "We will turn up wanting to finish in first place."

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