Lyon is to face an on form Schalke 04 for the top spot in Group B and a place in the Champions League last 16. In the other group game, Hapoel Tel Aviv meet Benfica.
AP - Raul Gonzalez is coming off a three-goal performance in the Bundesliga and will look to extend his Champions League scoring record when Schalke faces Lyon on Wednesday.
The Spaniard now shares the record of 70 goals in all European competition with AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi, but the Italian is out for the season with a knee injury. Schalke is in a good position to advance if it beats Group B leader Lyon. Both teams are coming off domestic wins.
In the other match, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Benfica. With two rounds of matches remaining, Lyon has nine points, Schalke seven, Benfica six and Hapoel one.
Raul scored three goals to help Schalke win 4-0 against Werder Bremen, another Champions League club, at home on Saturday. Schalke is still only three points from the bottom of the Bundesliga and coach Felix Magath hopes his team is finally finding its stride at home.
In the Champions League, Schalke has been doing better, although managing only a draw at Hapoel in the previous round could still prove costly. "We are still in a good position, we'll manage it,'' midfielder Ivan Rakitic said of Schalke's ambition to reach the second round.
Midfielder Peer Kluge said the team has been bolstered by taking seven points from its last three games in the Bundesliga. "The Bundesliga is our (focus) but we would like to spend the winter still in the Champions League,'' Kluge said.
Lyon won 1-0 at home against 10-man Schalke and Kluge said that the French side was the toughest opponent in the group. "They have a lot of experience in the Champions League,'' Kluge said.
Lyon had a poor start to the season but has moved within two points of the top after beating Lens 3-1 at the weekend. It will be missing center back Cris because of a knee injury, but defender Aly Cissokho and forward Lisandro Lopez are back.
In Tel Aviv, Benfica will have striking trio Pablo Aimar, Oscar Cardozo and Javier Saviola back together for the first time in two months, while central defender Luisao returns from suspension.
"We're lucky that advancing depends on us alone,'' Saviola said. "But we'll be up against a team that surprised us with its quality in the first game even though we won.''
Hapoel striker Etey Shechter is set to make his European return on Wednesday. He came on for the last 20 minutes of Tel Aviv's 3-1 win over Bnei Sakhnin in the Israeli Premier League on Saturday and appears to have finally gotten over a torn hamstring that kept him out since mid-October.
However, veteran midfielder Salim Toama and captain Walid Badier are both ruled out with injuries.The return to form of striker Toto Tamuz could be crucial for the Reds. Tamuz scored twice on Saturday.
Despite his team's lackluster showing in the Champions League group stage, Hapoel coach Eli Gutman said he still hoped for a victory on Wednesday. "Benfica is in a better situation than we are.
But that is the beauty of football - there is always a chance to win."
Date created : 2010-11-24